The creation of the European Higher Education Area has led to changes in universities that require today’s institutions to create environments accessible to all students and to train new generations of university teachers in the school inclusion. In this sense, the inclusion of students with special educational needs is the responsibility of all higher education institutions.
Inclusive education is a global movement that places higher education in a context of equality and social justice, considering that students with special educational needs should have the same learning opportunities as others.
Inclusive education aims for all universities to be inclusive, providing quality education and ensuring both access and long-term support for all students.
For these reasons, it is necessary to have higher education institutions prepared and equipped with the necessary resources and university teaching staff capable of meeting the needs of all the students they have in their class, using different strategies. methodological to teach them.
The legislative framework for the inclusion of pupils with special educational needs exists. The 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states in Article 24 that people with special educational needs have the right to education of equal quality without discrimination.
The European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 addresses equity and understanding of learning opportunities and identifies the need to provide training for university teaching staff, recognizing that they play a fundamental role in delivering a university inclusive of quality.
Finally, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that make up the 2030 Agenda aim to end inequalities, take into account the rights of all individuals and leave no one behind.
However, despite the existence of frameworks that promote the principles of equal opportunity, non-discrimination and full accessibility for students with special educational needs, universities still have hurdles to overcome to ensure this is the reality. .
These barriers make it difficult for students with special educational needs to access educational institutions. They include classrooms that are too small and do not allow for the mobility of students with special educational needs, as well as a lack of equipment and other obstacles related to the lack of training on diversity issues for university teaching staff. .
All of this makes the teaching-learning process more difficult for students with special educational needs.
The number of students with special educational needs who have access to university education is increasing every year. It is therefore important to analyze how they are included.
For this reason, a new scale has been designed, the “APTD questionnaire” (Accessibility, Process, Training, Demand). The questionnaire takes into account all the barriers that make it difficult to include students with special educational needs at university.
The questionnaire has three sections. The first section concerns socio-demographic data; the second is composed of questions relating to the attitudes of teaching staff towards the inclusion of students with special educational needs at university; and the third section concerns the APTD scale. It has four dimensions:
• Accessibility to the university campus;
• Inclusive educational actions and processes;
• Permanent formation ;
• Training Application.
From the responses of university teaching staff, it is possible to analyze what attitudes they have towards the inclusion of students with special educational needs, their access to university, inclusive educational processes that take place in the classroom, the training of teaching staff in diversity issues and what kind of other training they might require from the university.
The questionnaire makes it possible to establish a link between the different parts assessed by the scale and the different socio-demographic realities of the students. The APTD questionnaire directly involves the teaching staff of the university as it is an important part of the inclusion process and it is possible to obtain a global vision of inclusion in the university from their point of view.
With this information, universities can, on the one hand, improve their inclusion process and, on the other hand, determine the diversity training needs of their teaching staff, find out how they can improve this training and what type of training they would like to receive from university.
Once these training demands are identified, universities can design training courses on inclusive education that are of interest and relevance to teaching staff and ensure that students with special educational needs have equal learning opportunities during their time at university.
Nuria González Castellano is preparing a doctorate in didactic innovation and teacher training and is a member of the IDEO research group. Her research interests focus on inclusive education, diversity teacher training, pedagogical adaptations in an inclusive environment and school guidance. This article is based on a document“University teachers and the inclusion of students with special educational needs in higher education: proposal and validation of a measurement scale” by N González Castellano, E Cordón Pozo and MJ Colmenero Ruiz in the International Journal of Inclusive Education.