To­wards a truly ac­ces­si­ble univer­sity: Over­com­ing bar­ri­ers for peo­ple on the autism spec­trum and with learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties

Malta Independent - - LIFESTYLE & CULTURE -

The Rec­torate of the Univer­sity of Malta, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Fac­ulty for So­cial Well­be­ing, has been lis­ten­ing to con­cerns voiced by par­ents, stu­dents and the pub­lic about bet­ter ac­cess to ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion for per­sons on the autis­tic spec­trum and those with learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties. In this re­gard, the Univer­sity is or­gan­is­ing a con­fer­ence that will help it un­der­stand the chal­lenges so that it can re­spond ef­fec­tively.

Stu­dents on the autis­tic spec­trum and dys­lexia have am­ple sup­port dur­ing their pri­mary and sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion but they seem to face dif­fi­cul­ties ac­cess­ing ter­tiary level ed­u­ca­tion. The Univer­sity feels the time is ripe for it to eval­u­ate its cur­rent po­si­tion about ac­cess ar­range­ments for th­ese stu­dents. The ob­jec­tive of this con­fer­ence, which will bring to­gether stake­hold­ers namely stu­dents, aca­demics and ex­perts, par­ents’ or­gan­i­sa­tions and pol­icy mak­ers, is to iden­tify ways how the Univer­sity may over­come ex­ist­ing bar­ri­ers and re­spond to the cur­rent needs. The Univer­sity will be look­ing into its op­er­a­tions so that it will be in a bet­ter po­si­tion to ac­com­mo­date th­ese stu­dents who can profit from ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion.

The con­fer­ence will be wel­com­ing high­est level par­tic­i­pants in­clud­ing H.E. Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, Pres­i­dent of Malta, who will speak about in­clu­sion be­ing all about de­ci­sion-mak­ing, the Min­is­ter for Ed­u­ca­tion and Em­ploy­ment, Evarist Bar­tolo, the Shadow Min­is­ter for Ed­u­ca­tion and Em­ploy­ment, Therese Co­mo­dini Cachia MEP, the rec­tor of the Univer­sity of Malta, Pro­fes­sor Al­fred J. Vella, the pro-rec­tor for Staff and Stu­dent Af­fairs and Out­reach, Dr Car­men Sam­mut, the dean, Fac­ulty for So­cial Well­be­ing, Dr An­drew Az­zopardi, the chair­man, KNPD and Dis­abled Ac­tivist, Oliver Sci­cluna, mem­bers of the KSU, as well as a num­ber of aca­demics, na­tional and in­ter­na­tional ex­perts, ac­tivists and per­sons with a par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est in this field. The con­fer­ence will dis­cuss top­ics that in­clude mak­ing ac­ces­si­bil­ity work and the struc­tures re­quired at Univer­sity for this to hap­pen.

The con­fer­ence is be­ing held at the Au­di­to­rium, Univer­sity of Malta Val­letta Cam­pus on 25 Novem­ber. It is of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est to pro­fes­sion­als, par­ents and stu­dents with learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties, NGOs and the pub­lic in gen­eral. At­ten­dance is free of charge but in­ter­ested per­sons are asked to reg­is­ter by send­ing an email to lara.el­

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