Posted on 19th June 2020
The University of Warsaw translates the Autism&Uni Toolkit into Polish
Dr Mateusz Płatos explains how the Autism&Uni toolkit complements an EU-funded project to increase accessibility for students with disabilities at the University of Warsaw.
The University of Warsaw is the biggest higher education institution in Poland, offering courses to about 50,000 students in 21 departments. A part of the educational mission of the University is to make studying equitable and accessible for everyone, including neurodiverse students.
In November 2019, the University received major funding from the European Commission to increase its accessibility for students with disabilities. The project, called ‘The University for all – level up’, covers a wide range of actions from adapting the physical environment through improving disability services to offering specialised training to academic teachers.
One of the project objectives is to ideate and pilot a comprehensive model of support for students on the autism spectrum. The two main tasks of the ‘autism team’ is
- to prepare tools and guidelines for university staff to assess the needs of the students on the autism spectrum, and
- to outline and implement a model of tutoring/mentoring support for these students.
The project is participatory, so we build on the experiences of people on the autism spectrum, as well as collaborative, so we seek to use good practices implemented by other institutions, both in Poland and internationally.
As a part of these efforts, we came across the Autism & Uni toolkit, which we found complementary to our actions. It bridges the information gap pointed out by some students who felt unprepared or confused when starting up the university. We thought that the toolkit can be especially helpful for students who might be reluctant to use disability services or even encourage them to seek such support. The toolkit will be accessible for all students, in line with universal design principles.
We appreciate the ‘sharing culture’ of the Autism & Uni project that made its adoption possible for us. Not only were we allowed to use the infrastructure and the content of the toolkit, but we have also received the enthusiastic support of the Autism&Uni leader, Dr. Marc Fabri from Leeds Beckett University. Currently, we undergo the process of translating and adapting the toolkit. We plan to launch and pilot the toolkit in the next academic year, in Autumn 2020.
Dr Mateusz Płatos
Office for Persons with Disabilities
Faculty of Psychology, University of Warsaw