Science - October 18, 2007

Studying with a disability

Thirteen percent of students at Wageningen University have a functional limitation, or handicap to use the old-fashioned term, a figure comparable to the national average. A meeting on studying with a disability was organised on Thursday 11 October in Forum, as many students are not aware that they are entitled to various forms of support.

Imagine being able to follow lectures at home via Eduweb. It sounds like a thing of the future, but the means to do so are almost ready. Anouk Schrauwen a second-year Environmental Sciences students knows about it. ‘During my first year I developed fibromyalgia, a kind of rheumatism,’ tells Anouk. ‘I have a lot of pain and it’s very tiring. I find it difficult to attend lectures both in the morning and afternoon, and I imagine other students with functional limitations are in the same boat.’ Anouk is part of a project group that is working out how to record and broadcast lectures.

The meeting took place on the first floor of forum, where a computer island had been reserved for software demonstrations by students involved in the ‘Impuls Digitaal’ project. The project is developing different forms of digital support for students with disabilities. As well as students, lecturers, deans, workgroups, ICT-education and external organisations such as the Handicap + Studie expertise centre are involved.

‘We hope that this meeting will help people to meet each other and make it easier for some to seek contact, for example with a dean, a psychologist or doctor at the university,’ says Eljan Smeets, a student dean. She is pleased with the turnout: about fifty students, twenty ICT people and several study advisors. Students with a disability often are not aware that they are entitled to extra time for their study and more supervision, and that sometimes exams can be adjusted for them. Functional limitations include not only chronic physical, sensory and mental problems, but also dyslexia. / Alexandra Branderhorst

Info: www.wageningenuniversiteit.nl >> studentcounsellingservice and www.handicap-studie.nl

Re:act