The UOC's research is committed to attending to people with a disability

Press release

Photo: UOC
Photo: UOC

The University has promoted various projects that focus on improving attention for groups with disabilities

The UOC’s commitment to improving attention to people with a disability has found expression in the creation of the Working Group for People with a Disability. This group has been formed within the access gap section of the Education Sector Digital Transformation Plan with the aim of improving attention for this group of people. This commitment, however, takes a step further, given that the various faculties of the University are working on research projects in relation to people with a disability.

Projects being conducted by the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences

The Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences has launched a number of different research programmes in this field, such as the study “Getting ahead at online universities: revelatory experiences of traditional or emerging disability”. Headed by the researcher Efrem Melián and supervised by faculty member Julio Meneses, it explores identity management in relation to students with a disability and negotiations regarding communication of the disability to the institution in order to access academic adaptations.

Israel Reyes is responsible for the study “The inclusion of students with disabilities in online higher education: a qualitative analysis of the influence of socialization, the learning environment, and their personal situation on academic success”, also supervised by Meneses, which is based on the experiences of students and affiliated teaching staff and aims to analyse their perceptions of the role of interpersonal relationships in the inclusion of students with disabilities in the UOC’s teaching model.

Another significant project is “Mapping independent life”, by faculty member Israel Rodríguez-Giralt, which consists of identifying and analysing the independent life promotion initiatives implemented in Spain from 1999 to 2017 in a participatory manner (research-action) with users, activists and professionals. The faculty’s activity has also included the creation of INCLUWORK, a tool to analyse companies' inclusivity levels designed by faculty members Jordi Planella and Oriol Roger, who at the same time are working on an analysis of good practices of inclusive universities; and the establishment of the Inclusive Education Pillar - Bachelor’s Degree in Primary Education, headed by faculty member Nadia Ahufinger, which focuses on guaranteeing formative consistency on inclusive education for all students throughout this UOC bachelor’s degree. Additionally, the project Inclusive universities, led by Jordi Planella and Oriol Roger, has been launched to analyse good practices in this field.

The Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences is also collaborating on initiatives led by other institutions, such as the “Diagnosis of specific needs to tackle gender-based violence against women with disabilities and proposals for action”, which is carried out by the Catalan Women’s Institute (ICD) and is represented by Asun Pié and Carme Riu on behalf of the UOC. Work is also being done within the project “Young people, mental health and university access” led by Hospital Sant Joan de Déu in Barcelona, which includes the participation of UOC researcher Adrián Montesano. The University, with Montesano as its representative, also forms part of the Spanish government project “Mild and moderate depression in young people”.

Research conducted by the Faculty of Economics and Business

The Faculty of Economics and Business, led by Xavier Baraza along with fellow faculty member Mònica Cerdán, who has also worked on international research with the University of Technology Sydney, has conducted research such as the “Research project on the accessibility of students with disabilities to the libraries of Girona Provincial Council”, whose aim is to improve access to libraries for students with disabilities based on a universal design. Cerdán has also participated in the “Research project on transport accessibility” with studies on accessibility to metropolitan transport in Barcelona and to Barcelona airport for groups with disabilities and in the “Research project on cultural accessibility” in collaboration with CosmoCaixa, CaixaForum, Gran Teatre del Liceu and other organizations.

Providing support for teaching staff in the implementation of inclusive digital education models is the objective of the project “Building capacity for inclusive education in digital environments (e-Include)”. This research is being conducted in collaboration with the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (Netherlands), Hasselt University (Belgium), John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin (Poland), the Knowledge Innovation Centre (Malta), and Stichting Echo Expertisecentrum Diversiteitsbeleid (Netherlands). The UOC’s representative is Inma Rodríguez-Ardura and the project also includes the participation of the UOC faculty members Josep Lladós, Antoni Meseguer and Iviane de Luna Ramos, in addition to the director of the Globalization and Cooperation department, Gemma Xarles.

Additionally, the Faculty of Computer Science, Multimedia and Telecommunications and the eLearning Innovation Center have launched the Folio project, a techno-pedagogic model, with Quelic Berga as its head, which gives the university community online presence with the support of an educational institution. Moreover, the Faculty of Information and Communication Sciences has participated in the project launched by the University of Barcelona “Analysis of the impact and needs of students with disabilities in a context of distance or blended learning: trends, tools and resources to guarantee equal opportunities”, which includes the participation of faculty member Lluc Massaguer. This research analyses the impact and specific needs of students with disabilities within the current context of distance or blended learning, and proposes tools and resources to guarantee equal opportunities and accessibility.

Further reading

This article was originally published on UOC News on March 10, 2022. Also available in Spanish and in Catalan.
Julio Meneses
Julio Meneses
Full Professor

Professor de metodologia de la investigació, director de Learning Analytics de l’eLearning Innovation Center i investigador de l’Internet Interdisciplinary Institute de la Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.