Students with disabilities in online education: The case of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)


Universities should ensure equal opportunities and educational inclusion for all students, especially for disadvantaged groups such as students with disabilities (SWD). The Open University of Catalonia (UOC) is a fully online university that gathers a significant share of the SWD in Spain. In this presentation, we describe the institutional support provided to SWD, the profile of the students that have been attended, the historical evolution of the service, the lessons learned, and the remaining challenges. UOC’s Student Services were designed to meet all students’ needs developing a generalist approach and, therefore, a specific service to address the needs of SWD has not been developed. On the other hand, these students are not an homogeneous group but, rather, a quite diverse population that presents different demands and identities depending on the type of disability they have to live with. Accordingly, we argue that a specific and long-term institutional policy needs to be developed that serves as a basis for offering a more personalized attention that, in the end, facilitates students’ disclosure of their disabilities and improves the support to their distinct needs. Our experience may be relevant in a context of increasing participation of SWD and widespread adoption of virtual models in higher education.

EADTU’s Online Bridging Event I·HE2020 ‘Innovating Higher Education’


Melián, E., & Meneses, J. (2020, October 30). Students with disabilities in online education: The case of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC). Paper presented at the EADTU’s Online Bridging Event I·HE2020 ‘Innovating Higher Education’, Online.
Efrem Melián
Efrem Melián
Investigador doctoral

Investigador predoctoral del programa d’Educació i TIC de la UOC.

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.