Contemplating about college students with disabilities in the pandemic


Aye sounded incredibly satisfied on the mobile phone. “Now my friends are obtaining on the web education and learning like me! Now I’m also a course member…” Aye had a genetic disorder known as epidermolysis bullosa, a uncommon and critical skin dysfunction. Obtaining the appropriate setting for her to do a two-12 months laptop programming training course was a obstacle.

The director of her vocational school and the rector of the college had to do the job on bureaucratic difficulties to resolve the addition of an on line individual to a formal class. At the time she was the only one to get length or hybrid education and learning in her class. Now at a time of pandemic, everyone has been in the similar position. And she’s pleased, perhaps because she is at an advantage having experienced practical experience ahead of and also simply because the stigma of currently being the only 1 discovering in this way does not exist any more…

On Globe Disability Day or Global Working day of People with Disabilities, an global recognition day celebrated in December, the Planet Health Group emphasised the value of marketing an obtainable and sustainable lifestyle and responding to the urgent desires of persons with disabilities, in particular throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, underneath the slogan “a working day for all”.

Beneath the ‘accessible education’ banner, quite a few research have been carried out by the Council of Bigger Education of Turkey (YÖK) to increase recognition about accessibility on higher education campuses and to stimulate increased schooling establishments to provide additional educational and social chances to disabled students.

Quite a few several years back, the president of YÖK, Professor Yekta Sarac, released a new initiative entitled ‘Barrier-Free of charge College Awards’ in an try to promote additional accessible university cultures across the region. As portion of this initiative, all universities that fulfill the conditions set by YÖK are rewarded with ‘flags’ demonstrating that they are accessible for disabled pupils in quite a few respects.

In buy to receive an award, universities are evaluated primarily based on hundreds of requirements in terms of actual physical room, educational options and socio-cultural routines. The ‘Orange Flag’, for occasion, signifies uncomplicated access in bodily areas and the ‘Green Flag’ and ‘Blue Flag’ reveal accessibility in educational and socio-cultural routines.

The initiative captivated considerably far more attention than predicted and a big variety of universities rapidly recognized commissions to obtain these awards. For example, to receive the Orange Flag, which signifies the accessibility of actual physical areas on campus, universities are needed to fulfill over 200 requirements.

Although this is a extensive-term commitment (preparations for getting the flag typically get a full year), quite a few universities throughout the country are moving fast toward accessibility.

In 2018 YÖK gained 318 purposes from 41 universities. The purposes have constantly increased as the several years have handed: there ended up 653 applications from 81 universities in 2019 and 841 applications from 116 universities in 2020.

Even however not all of these apps resulted in effective awards, the application process by itself has contributed to setting up a lifestyle of accessibility in Turkey as dozens of universities have sought to assemble a barrier-free of charge ecosystem for disabled pupils.

Incapacity boundaries through COVID

Most applications for the Barrier-Totally free College Awards issue physical accessibility. Regrettably, applications for other ‘flags’ awarding accessibility in education and socio-cultural pursuits are smaller in quantity, principally since most educational programmes have not been created with accessibility in mind.

For illustration, producing a graphic layout programme accessible to an autistic person and to a deaf unique involves drastic modifications. Through the pandemic period, these sorts of accessibility issues in training have come to light-weight much more than actual physical barriers. Despite the fact that YÖK routinely advises universities to acquire the needed measures to accommodate learners with all varieties of disabilities, several programmes have been caught off guard.

More than this period, YÖK’s Disabled Learners Commission organized a complete questionnaire to be crammed out by universities across the country. The questionnaire mostly centered on the excellent of instruction disabled pupils are acquiring during the ongoing pandemic.

Called “The Questionnaire With regards to the Steps Taken by Higher Schooling Establishments for the Access of Pupils with Disabilities to Training Throughout the Ongoing Pandemic”, the survey was sent to 201 larger schooling institutions and was answered by 195.

According to the facts received by YÖK, there are 51,647 students with disabilities finding out in Turkish larger education and learning institutions. Nevertheless, the number of disabled pupils in the 195 participating increased training institutions was 48,159, and the study benefits were supplied centered on this range.

Among the all disabled pupils stated in the study, 43,614 (91%) are enrolled in social sciences programmes, 1,957 (4%) in engineering and science, 904 (2%) in medication and overall health sciences and 564 (1%) in fine arts programmes.

When YÖK evaluated the ailments of disabled college students in length schooling for the duration of the pandemic, it questioned universities offering length schooling whether or not disabled learners had world-wide-web obtain and the vital technical machines. Only 59% of universities presented supplemental documentation and instruction applications like documents geared up in Braille, whilst other individuals said that they did not will need these supplemental paperwork but available other technological assistance.

The benefits confirmed that 88% of larger instruction establishments actively sought to assistance pupils with disabilities by their Disabled Pupil Models and Distance Education and learning Workplaces. On top of that, 53% of universities held supplemental on the net meetings with disabled learners to notify them about distance schooling tactics.

Although 74% of universities stated that they experienced educated their lecturers about the accessibility worries of disabled students, 83% of them also indicated that initiatives ended up produced to compensate disabled college students for the disrupted teaching activities they faced all through the distance training system.

While 39% of universities that answered the questionnaire had targeted on enhancing the digital literacy of their disabled college students, 82% also presented external accessibility to their libraries. Inside the scope of length training, 89% of the increased schooling institutions had online video and audio guides on how to navigate programs and length understanding, 94% experienced explanations in written and some in indicator language and 19% also presented subtitles.

Apparently, 91% preferred their length education techniques to continue as an added instrument in the submit-pandemic face-to-encounter education and learning interval for disabled pupils.

As a section of this survey, YÖK also evaluated the regulations about psychosocial assistance delivered to disabled pupils who take part in distance instruction. Fifty-9 per cent of universities that answered the questionnaire assessed their academic and psychosocial help techniques, with 50% stating that they maintain supportive on the web interviews and workshops to relieve the pressure and stress and anxiety knowledgeable by disabled students.

All through the pandemic, some bigger instruction establishments also worked with unique pupils to establish their unique desires and to aid them adapt to length learning. Some universities also organized formal guidelines on supporting students with disabilities and enacted peer-aid programmes in which non-disabled volunteers presented peer guidance to disabled students during the distance training procedure.


To take away the barriers in entry to higher education, universities must embrace a pro-lively and demands-dependent action prepare: each individual department and every degree programme must draft its possess certain laws primarily based on the wants and the unique sorts of disabilities its students have.

Boosting consciousness of the obstacles is vital. It is essential that a identical survey analyze is performed by greater instruction establishments of the disabled learners on their own so that universities can see their individual shortcomings and consider the results of actions taken to make improvements to the scenario.

From admissions processes onwards, legislative rules are essential to help disabled college students to accessibility greater instruction.

In Turkey there are rules for disabled learners in the University Entrance Examinations (YKS): special content enable is presented to people with physical disabilities. Depending on their requires, an assistant can help people with visible impairment assistants are also furnished for all those with autism or with mental illnesses, who are also offered the probability to sit the exam in a room on their personal so they can truly feel far more snug.

Other aid features the provision of massive print problem booklets or added time allowed for exams, based on the incapacity. But these by yourself are not adequate to overcome the road blocks disabled learners facial area. Academic support and assist with accessing classes, campuses and supplies are wanted at all stages.

Student counselling solutions for disabled college students are important all through the pandemic. But they require details. Developing a extra accessible distance education company calls for reliable and comprehensive information about disabled pupils.

However, there is nevertheless a large amount of stigma and shame about incapacity, especially for more youthful people today who have not however designed their grownup id. Their reluctance to be recognized as disabled can be an obstacle to the assistance they may possibly want. Primarily for all those with unseen disabilities, the institution of a systematic database can be a problem.

Much more help is desired for all those students with individual disabilities in the course of the pandemic. Non-public on the web contacts and peer schooling can be practical. Universities in Turkey could get ready available distance instruction for the duration of the pandemic:

For deaf learners, delivering course articles in textual content structure, applying subtitles or indication language translators in the course of on-line lectures is handy for blind college students, descriptions of slides and furnishing reader appropriate supportive files, employing rich text formats and big fonts, contrasting colours in shows, describing graphics and tables for the duration of lectures are all alternatives for people with intellectual disabilities, mental health problems and on the autism spectrum ailment, frequent speak to with the family and the pupil is essential.

Instruction is a fundamental appropriate for all students, irrespective of their physical and mental abilities, and it really should not be interrupted all through the pandemic. On the constructive aspect, this pandemic has led to the emergence of some new techniques in face-to-confront schooling as properly as on the web accessibility in education.

As a result, a single need to continue to be hopeful: increased education may possibly potentially be far more obtainable to disabled students in the close to long run many thanks to the new technologies, methodologies and tactics produced in the course of this world wide pandemic.

Professor Zeliha Kocak Tufan, MD, is an government board member of the Council of Better Education and learning (YÖK), Turkey, and director of the Disabled College students Commission of YÖK.&#13