How it all started
According to the data from the European Commission, there is a very low participation of students with special need in the Erasmus mobility and, more in general, in exchange opportunities (only 0.17% in 2008-2009).
A consortium composed by UNICA, ESN, ErasmusHogeschool Brussel, University of Cyprus, Tallinn University of Technology, Eötvös Lorand University Budapest, Comenius University Bratislava set up a project that aims to enable students with disabilities to participate more fully in exchange programmes.
The idea is to stimulate the mobility of students with disabilities by organising site visits to the five European universities. The visits will be organised by the partner universities with the cooperation and involvement of the ‘ExchangeAbility Ambassadors’ (students with disabilities) from both welcoming and sending universities.
A grant for the project was approved by the European Commission (call DG EAC/41/09) in the framework of the "Lifelong Learning Programme", action "Erasmus Accompanying Measures".
The main aim of ExchangeAbility is to encourage an increase in the number of students with special needs taking part in the exchange programmes by stimulating their mobility through the organisation of site visits connected with different activities. All parties involved will lead a sensabilisation campaign composed of different activities and outcomes that will stress all the aspects of sending and welcoming disabled student at HE institutions, the policy of universities on inclusive education, the accessibility of the departments, as well as the social support and involvement in the student life.
Special attention will be put on the following factors:
- Encouraging a higher number of students with disabilities to go for an exchange and the quality of these exchanges
- Raising awareness among all the groups involved: university officials, students with and without disabilities, pointing out opportunities of participating in the exchange programmes.
- Creating a group of ExchangeAbility Ambassadors that will promote exchange programmes among other students with disabilities during and after the lifetime of the project
- Providing information on accessibility facilities available at the universities of the pilot group
- Prodiving audiovisual material and showing cases of good practice able to reach students with disabilities and their close environment
Other aims of the project are:
- Increasing the involvement of students with disabilities in the community in general
- Creating cooperation between universities and students, as well as between disabled students themselves and with other stakeholders involved in the inclusion of people with disabilities
- Changing the mind-set of the target groups involved about the mobility of students with disabilities
The partner organisations believe that comparing different situations in different universities during the site visits will stimulate the exchange of good practices and avoid the most common barriers to the different types of disabilities. Moreover having a clear picture of the situation of students with disabilities willing to go for an exchange will allow the EC to individuate and localize sources of problems and preview possible solutions.
The project ExchangeAbility was initially developed by ESN, European Disability Forum, Youth Agora with the active support of UNICA with the main aim of making ESN an accessible organization providing the conditions and opportunities for students with disabilities to actively participate in the student life.
An hadount for the ESN sections was made and you are free to download the pdf file attached at the bottom of the page.