Support for students with disabilities

Title

Support for students with disabilities

Name of the institution(s)

Every university and university college in Flanders

Qualification level concerned

EQF 6

EQF 7

Country concerned

Belgium

Theme(s)

Mission/Role of Professional Higher Education

Keywords

access to PHE, Inclusion, social dimension, student support

Summary

This project aims at students with impairments that limit their ability to participate in academic activities. The groups of disabilities include hearing impairments, vision impairments, physical disabilities, chronic illnesses, learning disabilities (including dyslexia, dyscalculia …), psychiatric disabilities (including Autism Spectrum Disorders, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder).

The project promotes equal opportunities and full participation in higher education for students with disabilities. It is specialised in taking actions to remove any obstacle which undermines the full participation. This means that project encourages disabled people to make the most of their living, learning and employment opportunities.

In order to assist their studying experience, accommodation guidance and financial support are given as well as psychosocial support advice and guidance in educational matters. The project also aims at supporting and encouraging low income students and other under-represented groups, thus reducing the barriers towards higher education.

The main purpose of the project is to strengthen the social character of the university colleges and promote equal access and participation. Student service offices pursue that objective by providing financial and social services as well as giving opportunities to every student regardless his cultural and financial background.

Lessons learnt

Each institution taking part has allocated certain resources in the project, including the support of the government of Flanders.

Besides staff costs, several ICT materials have been purchased in order to stimulate the education process of students with disabilities.

The costs are well justifiable and the public as well as the private sector are well supportive of this initiative, a key fact in terms of success and sustainability.

Additional information

The support system includes several methods:

– GON guidance (Integrated Education);

– payment of gestures or typist hours, enlarged copies, ICT equipment that can be used in your school, through the Special Education Resources Unit of the Ministry of Education and Training;

– technical and substantive support (tutoring) reimbursed by the Flemish Agency for Persons with Disabilities (VAPH) ;

– material or financial support from institution or social service / student services .

The methods are being developed in 3 different fields:

1. Culture for inclusion

We want to make people familiar with inclusion. We want them to reflect on how it is to study with a disability. We want to make them aware of their own vision on disability.

Several actions will aim at this goal:

We will develop workshop ‘disability awareness’.

We will develop a tool with portraits of students with a disability.

We will continue doing research on students’ perspective.

2. Structure for inclusion

July 2nd 2009 Belgium ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The rights for education and reasonable adjustments are important aspects in the convention. We wish to facilitate the application of the UN convention in higher education institutions.

Several actions will aim at this goal:

Publications about reasonable adjustments in higher education.

We will initiate and negotiate the application of the UN Convention in higher education institutions.

3. Inclusive practice

This field consists of two parts:

First we want to make faculty aware of the competencies they can use for inclusive higher education. Several actions will aim at this goal:

– A guide with tips for faculty and staff about support for students with a disability.

– Scientific research on the experiences of faculty in higher education.

Secondly we want to make learning accessible. Several actions will aim at this goal:

– We will develop tips to make optimal use of digital learning environments for students with a disability

We will explore with different actors the needs and possibilities for providing digital material.

Contact details

Websites:

www.centenvoorstudenten.be

http://www.siho.be/english/

Contact person:

Ms. Mathilde Joos, VLHORA

mathilde.joos[at]vlhora.be

First collected by

VLHORA / Flemish Council of University Colleges SIHO / Support Center for Inclusive Higher Education, 2013-2015

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