The MapAbility Training took place between the 29th of May and the 1st of June 2014 in Brussels (Belgium), where 40 ESN Volunteers gathered and received trainings and workshops by experts from the disability field. Through specific capacity building activities and workshops, participants learned about social inclusion of people with disabilities, how to volunteer in an inclusive way and shared best practices and experiences about different inclusive ESN activities. One of the main outcome of the training were the outcome were the recommendations, developed by participants how to make the local, national level of ESN sections’ activities more accessible, and how to take inclusive study mobility to the next level at the European level.
Ms. Zara Todd from the United Kingdom, who is a youth participation and empowerment specialist, and expert in training with mixed ability (people with and without disabilities) groups and Aurélie André, an Eduk8 facilitator from ESN had the difficult task to facilitate the whole training. Their contribution and work made this Training a success. A special thank you message to the European Disability Forum and Etienne Cuche for their participation to the Training.

The Training was followed by the MapAbility Conference, hosted on the 2nd of June 2014 at the Economic and Social Committee of the European Union in Brussels. Relevant stakeholders and representatives from Higher Education and Disability Sector attended the conference, such as:

  • Representatives of the eight partners of the MapAbility project: Autism Europe, Association for Higher Education Access & Disability, European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities, European Disability Forum, European Network on Independent Living, Jaccede, Wheelmap, UNICA - Network of Universities from Capitals of Europe
  • The European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education from Brussels
  • Fundacion Once from Spain
  • A representative from University of Ghent project partner of European Action on Disability within Higher Education
  • the European Commission Directorate General Education and Culture

The rest of the participants was composed of students’ representatives:

  • Students with disabilities who have been abroad during their studies
  • ESN Volunteers active in the ExchangeAbility project
  • The International Team of ExchangeAbility
  • The International Board of the Erasmus Student Network

During the conference, opportunities and challenges of study mobility for students with disabilities have been addressed through a panel discussion called “Mobility for all?”. This panel discussion opened a wider dialogue how to make more accessible study mobility for students with disabilities especially in the current Erasmus + Programme. The access and inclusion of disabled youth in higher education and student mobility were also discussed.
The International ExchangeAbility Team presented the first results gathered through the MapAbility questionnaire as well as the first draft of the MapAbility Map aimed at giving the right information to students with disabilities whether an HEI is accessible to them or not.  The recommendations from the Training were presented by ESN Volunteers on how to make the activities of Erasmus Student Network accessible on the local, national level and how foster the mobility of students with disabilities at the European level.

The conference was a great success and ESN would like to thank Mr Ian Mundell from the European Voice for his presence and article about the MapAbility project.

The MapAbility Conference is now over but the Erasmus Student Network will continue to work together with its 13.500 volunteers across Europe towards a more inclusive Higher Education Area and better promotion of study mobility programmes to students with disabilities, encouraging them to challenge themselves and experience a period abroad.

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  • First results of the MapAbility questionnaire gathered until the 22/05/2014
  • Recommendations from the MapAbility Training

Written by: Agnes Sarolta Fazekas, Member of International ExchangeAbililty Team 2013-2014 and Dominique Montagnese, Vice-President of ESN International 2013-2015