Inclusion and support for students with disabilities

Despite challenges, blind students and people with disabilities / chronic illnesses can gain knowledge and study.

  • June 12, 2023
  • 3 Min. reading time

Could you imagine a world where you can't immediately read a WhatsApp message, an Insta post or the presentation of your lecture? This is a reality that many blind students face on a daily basis. For people with other disabilities or chronic illnesses, studying can also prove difficult. Despite the great challenges, the opportunity to gain knowledge and study remains for blind students and people with disabilities or chronic illnesses.

Technological advances have opened many new doors. Blind students now have access to audio books, speech synthesis software and special reading apps. These tools are revolutionary and allow access to information in ways that were impossible before. People with disabilities or chronic illnesses are also offered various types of support at many universities today.

The real challenge

The real challenge is to break down barriers and create a more inclusive learning environment. A place where every person is given access to knowledge and where everyone can actively participate in discussions. The attitude of all fellow students also plays a crucial role here.

How can we help?

There are many ways we can all contribute to creating a more inclusive learning environment. Here are some tips:

  • Be patient: Studying with a disability can sometimes be more time intensive. So be patient and understanding when working with blind students or students with disabilities.

  • Be helpful: Offer your help when you see it is needed. But make sure you do so in a respectful and appropriate way. Disabilities do not make anyone less qualified, but sometimes a little support is welcome.

  • Be inclusive: When working in groups, remember that everyone should have the opportunity to participate. Create an inclusive space by providing information in a format that is accessible to all.

  • Be open-minded: Learn more about blindness, chronic illnesses and disabilities in general and the challenges that affected students face. The more you understand, the better you can help create a supportive environment.

What Swiss universities offer

In Switzerland, there are many higher education institutions that strive to create inclusive and accessible campuses for all students. However, the exact processes and types of support can vary from institution to institution. Here are some universities that offer support for students with disabilities:

University of Zurich: The University of Zurich has a specialist office for students with disabilities and chronic illnesses that provides information, advice and the necessary support to ensure that these students can successfully complete their studies.

ETH Zurich: Students with disabilities or chronic illnesses should be enabled to participate equally and independently in their studies at ETH. The counselling services include disability-specific concerns, compensatory measures for disadvantages in studies and examinations, and other measures to promote inclusion.

University of Basel: The University of Basel has a service office which aims to ensure that students with disabilities can fully participate in their studies. The framework conditions for barrier-free studies are to be continuously improved and values such as inclusion and diversity are to be lived in everyday university life.

University of Bern: The Equal Opportunities Coordination Office at the University of Bern is committed to equality in everyday student life. This includes removing disadvantages for people with disabilities as well as barriers in studying and working at the University of Bern.

University of Geneva: Students with special needs are also offered support at the University of Geneva. They should be able to complete their university education under the best possible conditions. The aim is to reduce the disadvantages of chronically ill and disabled students and to ensure that these students can successfully complete their studies.

University of Lausanne: The University of Lausanne also takes the situation of persons with disabilities into account. There is a responsible person in each faculty who, together with the persons concerned, assesses and implements their specific needs and the possible adaptations for studies and exams.

We should all do our part to make studying accessible to all. It is a challenge that we can only overcome if we become active and work together. Talking about inclusion is a first step, but it is essential to implement it.