CoHE Examines Access of Disabled Students to Education During
December 3, 2020
The Council of Higher Education aims to make all Turkish higher education
institutions accessible to all students with the works it has been carrying
out under the title “Barrier-free Access and Barrier-free Education”. In this
context, the Barrier-free University Awards, which were
given for the first time in 2018, encouraged the universities to become
accessible in physical areas, education and socio-cultural activities and
most of the universities gave impetus to their efforts by establishing
committees on the topic.
The number of applications, which was 318 from 41 universities in 2018,
has risen to 841 from 116 universities in 2020
According to YOKSIS, there are currently 51,647 students with
. Among these students, 27,782 of them receive education at associate
degree level, 23,581 at undergraduate level, 236 at Master’s degree level
and 48 at doctoral level. 89% of these students are enrolled in open
If formal education is made accessible, it will be possible to receive
education at all degrees and especially at graduate level.
Making a program accessible to a visually impaired individual differs
from making a program accessible to an individual with autism spectrum
disorder. Hence, different measures should be taken for different
Physically challenged students and students with visual impairments have
relatively higher access to higher education than other groups. The Council
aims to integrate students from different disability groups such as the
hearing impaired or students with autism spectrum disorder into higher
education with its recent decisions. Even though the studies on
accessibility in education have gained momentum, access to education has
yet to reach the desired level. Again, in terms of the awards for the
access to socio-cultural activities, the activities organized by the
disabled students are taken into consideration rather than activities for
the disabled. It is important to integrate them into campus life.
It is estimated that the number of disabled students is higher than the
number of those registered in YOKSIS. Unless students report their
disability to their universities, the real figures are not reflected in the
YOKSIS data. In this context, Turkish higher education institutions are
expected to carry out awareness-raising activities to reach all disabled
Measures Taken for Students with Disabilities in Higher Education
during Global Pandemic
As education continues to be offered online during the global pandemic,
students with chronic diseases and students with disabilities face
different challenges. In this context, Turkish higher education
institutions were reminded that they should take into account these
students in every decision they would make on the COVID-19 pandemic and
that they should take the necessary measures to sustain educational
processes. It was underlined that making little changes in presentations,
course preparations and lectures would mean a lot for these students.
In this regard, the following statements were included in the “ New Normalization Process in the Global Pandemic Guide”
and the “
Guide for Development of Healthy and Clean Environments in Higher
Education Institutions in terms of the Global Pandemic
” to have universities take the necessary measures within the bounds of
possibility to make distance education accessible for students with chronic
diseases and students with disabilities.
Universities should check the related programs to see if there are
enrolled students with disabilities and inform the academic staff
that gives the lecture of the necessary measures to be taken
according to the disability type.
Universities should take measures to eliminate the problems
experienced online by talking with the disabled students about
Universities should inform these students in writing of the
distance education systems.
Universities should also consider the measures such as providing
the course contents as texts, giving lectures in subtitles, if
possible, and sending the course content to students in advance for
hearing-impaired students. They should also consider being
attentive to use rich text formats that could be used by reading
systems in course texts, using large fonts and contrast colors in
presentations, describing visual contents, graphics and tables
during lectures, and describing graphics especially in exams for
visually-impaired students. They should also give extra time
according to the type of disability in exams.
Universities should also ensure that a few number of students that
have intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorders do not
lose contact with higher education. These students and their
families should be contacted at regular intervals, and academics in
psychology or other fields should provide support to these
students, if necessary.
In case students with chronic diseases report their conditions to
their university, their needs should be evaluated according to the
needs of their conditions.
Results of the Survey on the Measures Taken in Higher Education
Institutions for the Access of Students with Disabilities to Education
during Global Pandemic
During the pandemic, the educational processes in higher education
institutions have been carried out mostly through distance and online
The academics in CoHE’s Working Group for Students with Disabilities
prepared a survey to assess the measures taken for students with
disabilities and the current situation, and this survey was sent to Turkish
higher education institutions.
195 higher education institutions participated in the survey. The measures
taken during distance education and the psychosocial help offered to
students and their families were inquired.
Click here for the results of the survey.