According to the latest data, over 20,000 people with disabilities are studying at Polish universities. It is a very diverse group of people and despite progressing efforts to improve accessibility, they still face difficulties in their daily life at the university.

In order to support Polish universities in achieving the model of an accessible university, the National Center for Research and Development has announced a competition “Accessible University II”, for which 150 million PLN is allocated. One university may receive up to 15 million PLN in funding.

W ramach konkursu finansowe będą projekty likwidujące bariery w dostępie do kształcenia dla studentów z niepełnosprawnościami. W projektach mogą być prowadzone takie działania jak dostosowanie materiałów dydaktycznych i form kształcenia, zakup sprzętu specjalistycznego oraz dostosowanie narzędzi informatycznych i stron internetowych.

The competition will fund projects to eliminate barriers in access to education for students with disabilities. Projects may include activities such as adaptation of teaching materials and forms of education, purchase of specialist equipment, and adaptation of IT tools and websites.

In the project work in the field of architectural accessibility may be also included, but projects related to this area only will not be financed. It is imperative that the project also includes other forms of support, such as enabling students with disabilities to deal with student affairs via the Internet, or online examinations and lectures.

The PCG Academia offer includes a wide range of IT solutions that meet the competition criteria and for the implementation of which funds can be obtained.

Settlement of student affairs without the need to come to the dean’s office is possible thanks to the PCG Dean’s Office system. It allows for electronic workflow of student documents, e.g. for submitting applications, as well as for course registration via the Internet. The system also offers various methods of communication between the dean’s office, teachers and students. PCG Dean’s Office enables students with disabilities to minimize the need to physically come to the dean’s office, and at the same time provides them with constant access to up-to-date information on the course of study.

The PCG Mobile app supplements the university’s dean’s office system. Thanks to it, the student has all the necessary information at hand, including the timetable. The application also allows for electronic handling of administrative matters and displays notifications about events or upcoming exams. Both the application and the PCG Dean’s Office system are easy to use thanks to a modern and intuitive interface.

PCG Academia may also modernize the university’s student information system in order to adapt it to the needs of people with disabilities by introducing a modern web interface, i.e. a Virtual University, that meets the WCAG 2.0 accessibility requirements.

The availability at the WCAG 2.0 level is also guaranteed by the PCG Enrollment system, which provides comprehensive support for the recruitment process of candidates for studies. For the student, this means the possibility of trouble-free electronic registration for studies and access to constantly updated information about the status of the enrollment procedure.

PCG Academia solutions allow to increase the accessibility of communication and administrative processes. But the “Accessible University II” competition also includes activities increasing the accessibility of the education process itself. In this regard, we recommend solutions of our partners, Blackboard and Inspera companies.

Inspera is known for its proprietary system for the safe electronic examination of students. Exams can be carried out without fear even on the student’s private computer. For people with disabilities, the function of permanent recording of the exam progress on servers and the possibility of resuming the exam electronically or on paper is particularly important.

Blackboard, a world leader in educational technologies, offers many solutions to help students with disabilities.

Blackboard Learn Ultra is an extensive e-learning platform that provides a complete distance learning environment. Learn Ultra is one of the most popular LMS platforms and is used by universities around the world. The platform provides various forms of remote work with students, facilitates communication between students and educators, supports the individualization of education and gives students space for remote cooperation and building relationships with peers.

For universities with a considerable Moodle course system, we recommend Blackboard Open LMS. This service is based on the Moodle technology, therefore the transfer of courses to Open LMS is extremely simple. Open LMS significantly increases the attractiveness of online courses for students, while not introducing revolutionary changes for educators and administrators. In addition to a modern web and mobile interface, Open LMS is also characterized by automatic differentiation of materials made available for students, adapting to the pace and manner of student work and the possibility of integrating all Moodle platform instances existing in the university within one environment, facilitating their management and access to them.

An exceptional solution in the context of the competition is the Blackboard Ally tool, which was created precisely to adapt the education process to the needs of students with disabilities. Ally allows you to easily increase the accessibility of educational content made available on e-learning platforms and allows the university to track the level of accessibility of teaching materials. We invite everyone who wants to know how Ally works in practice to free webinars, which we will organize in March.

We are also planning webinars on other products that increase the accessibility of studies for people with disabilities – more information soon.

You can find out more about the “Accessible University II” competition in the article on our website, in which we have summarized the most important information.