Åbo Akademi is in the process of creating an accessibility plan, the plan’s goal is to provide support to all students and staff to achieve accessibility at Åbo Akademi University. Accessibility means a physical, mental, social and digital environment where everyone can interact on the same level. This will be in extra focus for those with special needs of various kinds, such as learning difficulties, physical disabilities or mental difficulties.
We believe that there is a great need for practical guides in plain language on accessibility issues for both students and staff. ÅAS has given a statement on the proposal for the plan, in which we considered that in its entirety the plan was difficult to read and unevenly structured. Wordings such as “as far as possible” are used quite often, they do not oblige anyone to do anything. Since there are course teachers who do not yet have knowledge of disabilities or are perceived as negative towards students, the threshold is high for an individual student to discuss individual arrangements., A student with dyslexia who is asked how they want to examine the course content does not necessarily have an answer. In order to practically create a lower threshold for contacting teaching staff about the issue, we purposed that Peppi could have a function connected to course registration where other information or individual needs could be stated.
We emphasized that good communication is especially important during digital teaching, for example a standardization of the moodle page for courses is needed. We mentioned break rooms for students as a matter of well-being and accessibility. Students who have special needs or chronic / temporary illnesses may need to take a break during the day, then it is not practical to have to go home for a free hour.
For the upcoming accessibility group who will discuss these matters, we encourage ÅAU to have at least two student representatives, e.g. one per campus. ÅAS would also like our Students‘ Rights Expert to be invited to the meetings.
Member of the board
More information on accessibility at ÅAU can be found here.