For the right to integration into higher education

This Wednesday (21st) marks the National Day of Struggle for People with Disabilities. For just over three decades, UEL has been trying to solve a recurring problem in the lives of students with special needs: learning disabilities.

With the Accessibility Center (NAC), the institution is committed to removing physical, architectural, behavioral and methodological barriers through specialized educational supervision and the development of diverse procedures for teaching students with developmental disabilities, autism spectrum disorders and high abilities/giftedness.

Associated with the Dean of Undergraduate Studies at UEL (Prograd), NAC promotes activities aimed at students enrolled in undergraduate and postgraduate special education programs. In higher education, this modality is characterized by actions aimed at strengthening the persistence and participation of students with diagnoses that require differentiated teaching techniques and assistive technology resources, such as relief materials and computers with voice synthesizers, for example. In addition to individual monitoring, students also receive complementary group support, and teachers are oriented to support accessibility and continuing education activities.

According to Nucleus coordinator, psychologist Ingrid Ausec, UEL is a pioneer in the provision of special education services in higher education in Brazil. Initially, the NAC was established as a Permanent Committee for the Monitoring of Students with Disabilities. In 2002, it was reformulated by Resolution CEPE no. 70/02 and changed its name to Monitoring Program for students with special educational needs. In 2009, it was reorganized into the UEL Accessibility Center. The last update of the Resolution was made in October 2021, but without changes to the nomenclature and legislation.

“It is extremely important that there are sectors and experts qualified to receive and organize support for students”, defends NAC coordinator, Ingrid Ausec.

According to the psychologist, the changes took place in order to meet the new requirements of the field of special education, such as the inclusion of the target audience and the provision of services that become part of the activities of this type of education. “When I started as coordinator, all we thought about special education in higher education was adapting what came out of basic education,” she says. “Today, we no longer adapt, because we already have models, protocols and studies for higher education students,” says Ingrid.

Monitoring at NAC starts from the moment an enrolled student, who fits into Nucleus’ target audience, requests the service. The student is registered in a service that is available to welcome the student and ensure access to his rights, adapting the learning process with collegiate courses when necessary. “It is extremely important that there are sectors and experts qualified to receive and organize student grants”, defends the coordinator.

Durability in a pandemic

During 2021, during the suspension of direct classes due to the pandemic, NAC monitored a total of 124 students. The data was collected by Nucleus itself, based on an analysis of service requests up to March of this year. Even by adapting to the distance format, NAC has maintained all activities and expanded some services, strengthening contact with teachers from other countries, for example.

Among the actions designed to serve students in this scenario, through the extended project “Accessibility resources in distance learning: the experience of collaboration of public higher education institutions in the north of Paraná”, a channel with instructional videos on accessibility resources needed in virtual interactions and the production of educational content by institutions. The project was developed as a partnership between UEL, the Federal Institute of Paraná (IFPR-Londrina) and the Federal Technological University of Paraná (UTFPR – Londrina and Cornélio Procópio).

Despite the return to face-to-face activities at the beginning of the semester, NAC has decided to keep teacher training activities in a distance format and offer a virtual service option to students. With the end of the academic year 2021-2022. at UEL, the Center also intends to reformulate its programming, promoting, for example, courses on the relationship between teaching and interpreting Libras and interacting with the visually impaired. “We had to adapt to this online format, so we are maintaining and expanding what was good, we are gradually returning to it,” explains Ingrid.

Inclusion, Counting

In primary education, one of the stages of the social inclusion process is for students to understand that at certain times activities must be adapted in order for inclusion to be effective. In addition, it is important that schools encourage the acceptance of differences and the development of friendly relations. One of the sources used to explain the importance of this awareness to younger students is the Turma da Mônica comics by Maurícia de Souza.

Turma stories feature characters who represent special children, subject to psychopedagogical help or intervention. Among the characters that add variety to the narrative are Luca (wheelchair user), Dorinha (impaired vision), André (autistic) and Sueli (deaf), who recently arrived in Bairro do Limoeiro. Their participation is always accompanied by an explanation of their special traits and often helps the student understand how to support a colleague who may have the same condition as a character.

As students progress in education, it is necessary to think about inclusion in higher education. Therefore, it is important to create specific structures for special education within institutions. With this progress in school, with this student graduating from high school, he starts to dream of college, like everyone else,” the psychologist points out.

*Trainee in COM/UEL.

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