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Becoming a More Inclusive University, Step By Step

Various measures are being implemented in 2018 to continue improving studying and working conditions for university students and employees with disabilities

Saxony’s State Ministry of Higher Education, Research and the Arts granted Chemnitz University of Technology approximately 188,000 euros in funding in 2018 for measures intended to improve inclusion and participation in teaching and research for students and employees with disabilities. All university faculties, central institutions and University Administration were able to submit requests during formulation of the action plan to distribute the extra budget. These requests were evaluated and prioritized by a task force composed of representatives for individuals with disabilities, the university’s Coordinator of Inclusion, employer-appointed Inclusion Commissioners and representatives of the University Department of Finance. The planned inclusion measures were required to contribute to the objective of establishing an inclusive university according to the Chemnitz University Action Plan. University Management approved the inclusivity action plan on June 20, 2018.

Along with sensitizing university members to the topic of inclusion in a general sense, the measures included in the action plan are aimed at accomplishing various goals in the next fiscal year, including: increased accessibility of university infrastructure, incremental implementation of an accessible orientation and signage system and university information and communication services, professional development courses as well as specific acquisitions for employees with disabilities. The university’s Creative Center, located on the Straße der Nationen campus site, will be equipped with an interior elevator system in order to allow access for visitors with impaired mobility. In addition, the university library is expanding their collection of publications on the topics of “Studying with Disabilities” and “Inclusion”. Moreover, the University Computer Centre is working together with two external partners to improve the Campusfinder and the “TU Chemnitz App” to make interactive and user-friendly information about buildings and accessibility available. In particular, new students and those with disabilities will then be able to orient themselves on university sites more quickly and effectively. 

Apart from the inclusion funding provided by the State Ministry of Higher Education, Research and the Arts, the university was also already able to implement other important sub-projects this year. In cooperation with the Central Examination Office (ZPA), a form was developed to request adjustment for disadvantage(s) in examinations according to § 5 of all university examination regulations. This is intended to allow students with disabilities or chronic illnesses to request adjustment or compensatory measures from the ZPA for upcoming examinations to address concrete disadvantages in the examination setting. At the same time, this represents the first standardized and transparent procedure valid for every degree program. Each respective examination board is responsible for determining the individual adjustments for reported disadvantages. Also, the central “Inclusion and Accessibility” website has been online since April. “The site has important information for students or employees with disabilities, as well as an overview of support programs or assistive technologies. With this service, it will no longer be the case that a person won’t know where to find an accessible restroom in a building, for instance when guests or applicants ask where they are,” says Dr. Daniela Menzel, Coordinator of Inclusion and designated contact person for students with disabilities in the Central Course Guidance Service. The contents of the site will be expanded over the next few months and ideas and suggestions from the university public are welcome.

All of the measures named are co-financed using tax revenues on the basis of the budget determined by lawmakers in the Saxon State Parliament.

Background: “Chemnitz University on the Path to Becoming an Inclusive University” Action Plan

On the basis of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was adopted in 2009, steps should be taken to implement appropriate incremental measures to increase accessibility and to ensure that people with disabilities are able to fully and equally exercise their rights to education and employment in higher education settings. Efforts across various domains and the dedication and commitment of all university members are necessary for Chemnitz University to become more inclusion-sensitive.  The “Chemnitz University on the Path to Becoming an Inclusive University” action plan, enacted in December 2017 by Chemnitz University Management, laid the groundwork for these efforts. Goals and specific measures were stipulated in the plan based on a systematic review, the guideline-based work conducted by the members of the inclusion task force and the 2016 student survey focused on studying with disabilities.

More Information is available from Dr. Daniela Menzel, Coordinator for Inclusion, Tel.: +49 371 531-34939, E-mail: daniela.menzel@verwaltung.tu-chemnitz.de

 

Mario Steinebach
07.08.2018

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