OSCE and Unison NGO present report on access to higher education in Armenia for people with disabilities

The findings and recommendations of an OSCE-supported survey exploring the main obstacles encountered by people with disabilities in accessing Armenia’s higher education system, was presented today in Yerevan.

The report commissioned by the OSCE Office in Yerevan was produced by the Unison NGOthat supports people with special needs. It provides comprehensive statistical data and focuses on physical and programmatic, as well as the academic inclusiveness of higher education.

“The report is a good example of innovative thinking. It analyzes the system of higher education from the perspective of students with special needs. The report’s recommendations and the effort investedare positive steps toward increasing the integrity of higher education in Armenia,” said Oliver McCoy, Democratization Programme Officer at the OSCE Office in Yerevan.

The report finds that only one of the 29 higher education institutions surveyed is physically accessible to people with mobility issues. The majority of universities think that inclusiveness of higher education should be guaranteed only to young people with mobility, sight, hearing, speaking or general disabilities, excluding those with mentalissues. There are no set mechanisms within universities to adapt the educational process to the needs of people with disabilities. It is only the good will of faculty members and fellow students to make the learning process favourable to disabled students, the report notes.

Armen Alaverdyan, Executive Director of the Unison NGO, said: “The survey outcomes show that Armenian universities mostly lack inclusive policies, facilities and academic programmes for students with disabilities. I strongly believe we should fill this gap by heavily promoting equal opportunities to get a decent education in Armenia.”

The survey is based on opinions of students with and without disabilities, administrative and academic staff of higher education institutions and young persons with disabilities, as well as the general public. Twenty-nine universities in Yerevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor were included in the survey which was conducted during September-November 2014.

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