The UOC’s mission is to ensure that everyone wishing to access lifelong learning can do so. This is why the UOC has devoted significant effort since its beginnings to providing access to the university for people with disabilities.
With the fundamental aim of meeting everyone's learning needs with maximum access to knowledge, the UOC offers an educational model based on personalisation and the permanent accompaniment of the student, beyond the limitations of time and space. It is, then, a model that intrinsically achieves high levels of equal opportunities in access to learning, added to which is the work required in meeting the needs of students with a disability.
The UOC has an Accessibility Programme to assist the coordination of all the work carried out both by the various administrative departments and by the academic departments to improve the university's accessibility.
All students have a counsellor available to them who will take care of guiding and advising them on an individual basis from the moment they apply for admission to the university, prior to enrolment, until they graduate. This way, students with a disability can even get information about the type of support that they can expect from the university in every case before enrolling at the UOC for the first time.
The aim of the learning resources is to allow the student to study, whatever the circumstances in which they have to do so and irrespective of the setting in which they find themselves (library, public transport, home, etc.), the device they are using (PC, mobile, etc.) or the student's individual characteristics.
For this reason, we have worked on a number of projects that have enabled us to advance in the creation of materials in XML format, on the basis of which versions of the same content are generated in multiple formats, such as materials on paper, in PDF, HTML, karaoke, talking book, e-book. Each of these formats is designed for use at a specific time or in a specific situation, and we are working on ensuring that this range of possibilities is available for all subject materials. For example, the talking book is very interesting for meeting the needs of people with impaired vision, as the DAISY format that it uses makes it possible to work on the content in audio as though it were a book, turning pages or going on to the next chapter easily. The HTML version allows searches in the content of the material, while the PDF format offers automatic reading based on TTS tools (TextToSpeech).
We continue to research into creating new formats that adapt ever more precisely to the needs of the different students with the aim of developing into an increasingly more accessible and inclusive university. In any case, if a student finds that they cannot access any subject material, we try to adapt the format of the material as far as possible so that the student can access its content.
Work is underway to adapt the various interfaces of the Virtual Campus to comply with the w3c consortium's WAI AA standard (www.w3c.org/wai), which is recommended to ensure ease of browsing on web interfaces for people with visual impairments.
The UOC is a distance university where all teaching goes on using the communication and work tools provided by the virtual campus. There are, however, some on-site activities every semester. Some are voluntary, such as attending the graduation ceremony or the activities organised by the various centres, while others are compulsory, such as sitting the final assessment tests.
Graduation ceremony and activities at the centres. Students with a disability can contact the UOC service in charge of organising these events to let it know of their needs. At the student's request, the necessary resources will be sought so that their attendance is as easy and satisfactory as possible. All requests are accepted. The services that can be requested include:
- Ramps and adapted entrances
- Reserved parking
- Accompaniment during the event
- Sign language interpreter
On-site assessment tests: Students can find information at the campus secretary's office about the procedure to follow to request adaptations when taking the on-site tests. Students can request any type of adaptation, which will be granted as long as documentary evidence is provided. The following are the most frequently requested adaptations in the case of the on-site assessment tests:
- Ramps and adapted entrances
- Jaws or Zoomtext program
- Texts in Braille
- Take the tests with the help of a PC
- Take oral tests
- Adapted texts
- More time to take the test
At the request of the departments, the Committee for Curricular Adaptation assesses applications for any significant curricular adaptations that a student may require (modifications of the curriculum, the content or the learning methodology of any subject, the skill to be acquired by a student).
With regard to economic assistance, the UOC applies discounts to students with 33% or more degree of disability on official degree courses. In terms of official degree courses in Spanish, an equivalent discount is applied. Students should apply for the discount and provide documentary evidence when enrolling.
Besides this, the UOC fosters the signing of agreements with institutions and companies that work in the field of disabilities to favour the study conditions of their students with a disability (grants, free technology support products) and their socio-employment integration (practical placements, specific job offers). Similarly, we seek to sign agreements in order to make the advances made at the UOC in terms of the accessibility of its course materials available to people with a disability.