The services to support students with disabilities at UNED
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15 May 2017
Tiberio Feliz and Ana Belén Andreu
The Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED) is the National Distance University in Spain. It is also the preferred university for students with disabilities in Spain, with more than 8,000 students. This demand caused the need of support and means since the 90’s, and different services were carrying the inclusion of people with disabilities.
In the earlier time, the staff was administrative and was oriented to formal reception and admission. Later the service was oriented to a stronger guidance. A specific service was created with technical staff with psycho-pedagogical competences: UNIDIS. In the beginning, this team was focusing only students and has enlarged the scope to the whole university community with disabilities.
The unit has developed an interesting experience based mainly on adaptation of processes in several fields as physical accessibilities, learning, participation, and assessment. The increasing digitalization of means and virtualization of communication has changed the focuses to attend and the demand of helps and tools.
At the same time, the strategy has involved a social inclusion approach adding projects and actions to disseminate the knowledge about disabilities, promoting new values related to inclusion of diversity, facilitating relationships of university with companies and society, and increasing the employability with practical stages and periods for people with disabilities.
We analyse the evolution of the services, the organization, and the philosophy of the centre for the latest twenty years.