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UNED's Strategies for Inclusion of People with Disabilities

Structural measures

Free registration

Spanish universities have by law free tuition for all people with disabilities that affects both undergraduate and master's degrees. In the case of unofficial titles, discounts apply. This could lead to an overdemand for official training, but even so the percentage of people with disabilities is much lower than the general percentage of university students. Distance education is in this sense the preferred modality as it has 5% of students with disabilities compared to 1.5% on average throughout the Spanish university.

Reservation of places

In some universities, reservation of places are applied in access to training. The UNED only applies it to postgraduate courses because they have a limited number of places, but not for degrees because they lack limitations and can be accessed by all people who meet the official access requirements. The percentage established is 5% by analogy to the reserve quota established for access to a public job. The justification is a projection of the reservation to employment insofar as it will only be effective if we also guarantee the training of people to access jobs.

Specialized services

All Spanish universities have services or centres for people with disabilities that are linked in different ways to the university and offer various supports. In general, we can appreciate that services can be responsible to varying degrees for the adjustments and services needed by people with disabilities (Guillamón & Rodríguez, 2010). According to the centres, other services and various activities related to university life, community and leisure are also offered. In the UNED case, UNIDIS is the centre with technical and administrative staff. The technical staff include pedagogical, psychological, accessibility, and communicational competences.

Advisory Board

The advisory board is the governing collegiate body of UNIDIS, the centre to support university members with disabilities. It is made up of persons in charge in UNED and representatives of social organizations of people with disabilities. It meets once a year to evaluate the work done and guide future actions.

Volunteer Program

The volunteer program allows to give personal support to students with disabilities through other students, teachers, or administrative staff who are offered for that purpose. Volunteers can provide support in learning, in the use of virtual tools, in administrative actions, in the preparation of works and activities, in participation in extracurricular activities, or in the development of exams.

Student-oriented measures

Reasonable Adjustments

There are several types of reasonable adjustments in exams (Andreu Bueno et al., 2011). We can organize them into several types:

- Adjustments in the presentation of information (e.g., font size) or technological support (paper, digital, Braille, audio)

- Adjustments in the duration. We have standardized in 30 minutes the extension of time when, starting from the diagnosis and reports received, the technicians consider that this person may need more time to perform the same test as their colleagues. When the exams are one hour or an hour and a half, the time is automatically added in the departure time granted to the student. When the test is two hours and reaches the limit of the session, the teacher is asked to reduce the content of the tasks or number of questions of the exam so that the student can perform it on equal terms with his classmates.

- Adjustments in the spaces of realization: The space is another of the important conditions for taking face-to-face tests. Students with agoraphobia may need to be in specific classroom locations such as being near the door, being in another classroom with very few students, or even being alone in another classroom. In very pronounced situations, people with very reduced mobility, people bedridden by illness, or people with chemical hypersensitivity, it is sometimes necessary to send a teacher to the student's home to take the exam. In exceptional situations such as during the pandemic or in cases where it is very difficult to send a teacher home, there is also the possibility of doing it by virtual means or with alternative tasks that can be requested in various ways.

Digitized, individualized exams

The distribution of the exams that are carried out three times a year (February, June and September) is distributed through a fully digitized procedure and teachers upload the exams to an application. This standardized system also allows the upload of individualized exams that are specifically required and adapted with the adjustments granted to students with specific educational needs. To carry out this process and after granting the adjustments to the students for each of their subjects with the authority of the rector of the university, each teacher prepares these individualized exams of his topics. These exams are associated with specific students who will be the only ones who will receive that test adapted with the requested adjustments, whether it is printed on paper or if it is a digital file to be done on a computer.

Strategies linked to the society

Extracurricular paid internships

All Spanish universities have a number of scholarships to be able to finance extracurricular internships in companies for people with disabilities through an agreement between the conference of rectors and the ONCE foundation. For three months, students have an amount of € 600 with social expenses included to be able to exercise according to their studies in a company.


This is the meeting of all the services for support of people with disabilities of the Spanish universities in a dependent body on the conference of rectors. It allows to establish the coordination of actions and the exchange of experiences at the same time as meetings and the publication of documents related to the work done.

Newsletter on University and Disability

A monthly digital newsletter is published that collects all the information and news of the universities in relation to disability. It is free to subscribe and includes various sections on activities, news, meetings, publications, training, etc.

Communication with people with disabilities

UNIDIS has distribution lists, communities of people and professionals related to disability, as well as social networks through which news, activities, publications and training offered in this field are exchanged and publicized.

Collection of publications

UNIDIS has published various reports and studies, as well as the proceedings of events and congresses related to the university and disability. It is a monographic collection dependent on the UNED publishing house. Currently they can be downloaded directly from the web in digital format.

Guidance for Inclusion

Starting from 2020, we organized a workshop about guidance for inclusion with representatives of associations of people with disabilities, students, teachers, and professionals of the guidance of secondary education in order to raise the needs and knowledge of people with disabilities for their access to university. The aim is to reduce the university access gap between persons with disabilities for various reasons in which professionals and secondary school guidance services could mediate.

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