As recognition of such challenges, ESN developed the ExchangeAbility project to make our organisation accessible for students with disabilities, to help remove obstacles to participation in exchange and promote the opportunities available.
Aims of the project
The project has dual aims that can be summarised as:
- Making ESN a more accessible association for disabled students at all the levels of its activities.
- Increasing the number of students with disabilities going on exchange.
A new project on HEIs accessibility to students with disabilities and special needs
Erasmus Student Network (ESN), applied to the European Youth Fondation of the Council of Europe for financial support for a project called MapAbility: Mapping the HEIs (Higher Education Institutions) accessibility for student with disabilities and special needs.
- The project aims at mapping the accessibility of European HEIs to students with disabilities and special needs
- The main aim activity planned for the project is a European Conference:
- to evaluate the process of integration of students with special needs
- to enhance their inclusion to the local community
- The promotion of student mobility in Higher Education
- to facilitate an increase of student mobility among students with disabilities, socially oriented students and ExchangeAbility coordinators
- to share best practices and experience
- map different European universities according to their architectural barriers and accessibility
- create a common vision regarding social inclusion of disabled youth in student mobility
- aim at increasing the awareness among students to improve social inclusion for all students, regardless to their abilities or disabilities
The project officially started in October 2013 and the map is available here.
We are proud that ESN Croatia is the only ESN country that organized national ExchangeAbilty conference and we are honored that has an ExchangeAbility ambassador for Croatia is Mihovil Španja who is an ex-Erasmus student himself. You can see gallery of pictures from the conference here.
Irma Valčić (ESN Zagreb)
"The Exchangeability/Mapability project was organised at our universities in May 2014. All the faculties were extremely helpful and ready to provide us with all the information needed to ensure that students with disabilities were well-informed about the facilities and qualified staff (or lack thereof) awaiting them in Croatia. The current situation is, honestly, lacking but universities are constantly looking for ways to improve and adapt to every student. The University of Zagreb, as the biggest university in Croatia, is the best equipped out of all. Everything still depends on the faculty and the department building but most faculties have some kind of infrastructure to accommodate students with disabilities. The university itself also has a central office for students with disabilities where students can find help in the form of advice, screen readers, electronic magnifiers, etc. 3 out of 5 student dorms are adapted to students with disabilities and 2 of them offer equipped staff members to help the students with anything they might need during their stay, from exercise to help with dressing or walking."
Maja Škorić (ESN Osijek)
"I was making MapAbility for Josip Juraj Strossmayer Univesity of Osijek. The moment I had heard about this project I didn’t have to think twice to apply for a local coordinator. It was really nice to be part of such a noble project in which I came in contact with different people who have helped me to collect all the necessary information. Unfortunately, I came to the conclusion that our faculties couldn’t offer enough for students with disabilities, primarily because of the lack of financial resources. The good thing is that all the people with whom I spoke expressed their desire to change that, and to investment in infrastructure appropriate for students with disabilities, as well as in materials that could help students with disabilities during their study. I am sure that MapAbility, as well as ExchangeAbility, has at least slightly raised awareness of the needs of students with disabilities and this is, and definitely will be, something ESN Osijek will try to put a light on. With a strong belief in continuous improvement, I am sure that this current situation will eventually be changed and that MapAbility will encourage more and more students with disabilities to go mobile!"
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