“Barrier-free Access Workshop” Held at CoHE
May 2, 2017 / Ankara
The Council of Higher Education (CoHE), which designated the 2016-2017 academic year as the "Barrier-Free Access" for disabled people in higher education, organized a "Barrier-free Access Workshop" in order to raise awareness about the accessibility of disabled individuals to all places and disseminate good practices in higher education institutions.
The workshop held at CoHE covered the spatial availability of students with disabilities in universities. Representatives from higher education institutions shared information about the arrangements they have made regarding physical accessibility for disabled individuals and the arrangements higher education institutions have to make were discussed in the workshop.
CoHE President Prof. M. A. Yekta Saraç, CoHE Executive Members Prof. Mehmet Şişman, Assoc. Prof. Zeliha Koçak Tufan and Prof. Rahmi Er, rectors or vice rectors of state universities, representatives of Disabled Students Units and department heads of construction attended the first workshop held at CoHE Conference Hall.
Representatives from the Disabled Students Commission of CoHE, Ministry of Family and Social Policies, Hacettepe University, Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University, Boğaziçi University and Mersin University and Mustafa Karadeniz, the director of the movie "Çınar" who is also an individual with disabilities, also participated in the workshop.
CoHE President Prof. M. A. Yekta Saraç made the opening speech of the workshop. He began his speech by expressing that the Disabled Students Commission which is a part of CoHE carried out its activities within the scope of the "Regulation on Consultation and Coordination of People with Disabilities in Higher Education Institutions" and that the Disabled Students Units that serve under Rectorates have been carrying out studies.
President Saraç said that the number of students with disabilities in Turkish higher education institutions is 13655 and emphasized that they wanted to allow more disabled students to study in universities.
CoHE President noted that there are 5480 physically handicapped students, 3954 visually impaired students and 1245 hearing impaired students and that these students take the first three places in terms of disability.
"The primary goal of CoHE is to allow our students to study in higher education, prepare the physical and academic environment necessary for facilitating the student lives of students with disabilities, take measures and make necessary arrangements for the full participation of our students with disabilities in the process of education and training.
The Council of Higher Education came up with some recommendations on the adaptation of students with disabilities into university entrance exams. These recommendations are published in ÖSYM guides. In addition, we review the requests of universities on the training of students with disabilities.
We also assess the requests of both students with disabilities and their families and make decisions on the related topics. Recently, we have been conducting studies on children with autism spectrum disorder and mental disabilities."
President Saraç added that there has been studies for the Department of Translation and Interpreting of Turkish Sign Language and that graduate programs would also be opened in the near future.
In addition, CoHE President stated that workshops for barrier-free universities are held in a different university every year and emphasized that the subjects of "Spatial Accessibility" for the 2016-2017 academic year and "Barrier-free Education" for the 2017-2018 academic year were decided to be the main topics.
CoHE President Sarac emphasized that the primary goal of CoHE is to ensure that students with disabilities are fully involved in higher education. Saraç ended his speech by saying that they wanted to improve the physical accessibility of Turkish universities within that goal and that they wanted the universities to have accessible places for all students with disabilities.
Click here to view the speech made by CoHE President Saraç in the opening of the workshop. (In Turkish)
The opening sitting took place after the opening speech. Assoc. Prof. Zeliha Koçak, Executive Member of CoHE and Member of the Disabled Students Commission, made a presentation titled "Studies of the Disabled Students Commission of the Council of Higher Education".
After the presentation titled "Developments and Legal Regulations on Accessibility in Turkey" by İshak Çiftçi, General Director of the Directorate General of Services for Persons with Disabilities and the Elderly, a conversation was held with Mustafa Karadeniz, a disabled director, in the section called "Real Life Story". A little part of his movie "Çınar" was also previewed in this section.
After the completion of the opening sitting, the members of the Disabled Students Commission, Prof. Meltem Yılmaz, representative from Hacettepe University, and Assoc. Prof. Müyesser Okumuş, representative from Kırıkkale University, moderated the first session titled "Best Practices on the Accessibility of Interior and Exterior Areas in Universities".
In the afternoon session of the workshop, Asst. Prof. Hande Sart, member of the Disabled Students Commission and representative from Boğaziçi University, moderated the second session titled "Legal Obligations on the Accessibility of Interior and Exterior Places and the Responsibilities of Higher Education Institutions".
After the completion of the second session, the question and answer session took place. In this session, participants shared their ideas on the arrangements regarding physical accessibility for disabled individuals in higher education institutions and made suggestions on the regulations that all higher education institutions must make.
After the question and answer session, Assoc. Dr. Macid Ayhan Melekoğlu, member of the Disabled Students Commission of CoHE and representative from Eskişehir Osmangazi University, completed the workshop with a closing speech.