Accessibility of Higher Education – Advancements, Challenges and Good Practices

Accessibility is a human right as stated, inter alia, in article 9 of the UN Convention of rights of persons with disabilities or in the Stockholm Declaration. Additionally, foreign students and lecturers, learning difficulties, aging professors, persons with disabilities (among students and university staff), (increasing) awareness of special needs, inclusion, equality and diversity of all of us – make accessibility and universal design a must for universities and their workers. Progressing awareness and recognition of specific needs have to be accompanied by, inter alia:

  • Development of adequate policies
  • Exploitation of new pedagogical concepts and methods and innovative technology (incl. assistive one)
  • Universal design of syllabuses
  • Reconsideration of research agenda and priorities to, e.g., include accessibility and universal design
  • Development of support models and services

This challenge is not new. Certain universities have been building up accessibility for few decades. However the process of advancing accessibility and universal design is not general as we would wish. And still a lot of old and emerging dilemmas and questions have to be resolved, researched or answered, including the following:

  • How to consider accessibility and universal design in university’s internal legislation (and policies)?
  • How to include accessibility and universal design in pedagogy?
  • How to implement universal design in syllabuses?
  • How to decide on a support model (e.g. what internal structures?; own or shared resources?)?
  • How to finance accessibility investments and changes?
  • How to govern, coordinate and monitor accessibility?
  • How to promote accessibility, how to convince accessibility sceptics?
  • How to share experience, exchange good practices and network?

How to assure:

  • Accessibility of didactics?
  • Accessibility of materials (educational, scientific, etc.)?
  • Accessibility of validation of learning outcomes?
  • Soft support (crisis intervention, psychological consultation, coaching, mentoring, etc.)?
  • Accessibility of the admission process to a university?
  • Accessibility of foreign languages education?
  • Accessibility of physical education?
  • Accessibility of research (scientific) process?
  • Exploitation of assistive technology and innovative one in general?
  • Accessibility of dormitories?
  • Assistance services?
  • Accessible transport services (to or within a university)?
  • Specific support services for neurodiverse persons (persons with learning difficulties)?
  • Specific support services for autistic persons?
  • Specific support services for blind and partially sighted persons?
  • Specific support services for deaf and hard of hearing persons?
  • Specific support services for elderly university workers (e.g. researchers and teachers)?

We encourage all from academia (and also from governments and NGOs) to share their achievements, good practices, views and opinions. It concerns: policy makers, academic teachers, scientists, support staff, managing staff, etc. We call for contributions both to the

to faciliate interesting, foreward-thinking and provoking presentations, publications, discussions and exchange.
See you in Lecco :)


  • Aleksander Waszkielewicz, Fronia - Foundation for Persons with Disabilities, Fundacja na Rzecz Osób z Niepełnosprawnościami
  • Anna Rozborska , FIRR - Institute for Regional Development Foundation, Fundacja Instytut Rozwoju Regionalnego

Contributions to a STS have to be submitted using the standard submission procedures of ICCHP24.
When submitting your contribution please make sure to select the right STS from the drop-down list "Special Thematic Session". Contributions to a STS are evaluated by the Programme Committee of ICCHP-AAATE and by the chair(s) of the STS. Please get in contact with the STS chair(s) for discussing your contribution and potential involvement in the session.