The UDLL partners has specific and complementary expertise skills needed in the project. This is both professional skills about universal design, pedagogy, disability and project management, and unique project experience both locally and internationally.
Universell belongs to the Norwegian University of Sience and Technology, and is organized as a independent unit under the Division of Student and Academic affairs. Universell works from an assignment from the Ministry of Education as the national coordinator of universal design and an inclusive learning environment in Higher Education, with staff at all Norwegian HEIs as a primary target group.
Universell is a national expert of disability questions in Higher Education, and are used by several ministries to address important questions about inclusion and learning environment. Universell has a considerable national network, both within the HEI’s, but also with other sectors (i.e. the ministry of Equal rights). Universell has a high degree of pedagogical competence in the staff, and also formal expertise on universal design in general and in ICT. The unit has an internal network at NTNU, and a cooperation with the Programme of Teacher Education, which among several task works with the obligatory program for university teachers. Universell is also in close cooperation with the Student Service Section where the University’s disability office is placed. In the project, Universell will have its strong point in the theoretical knowledge about UD, and in the field of working with policy makers. The Norwegian goverment has declared the vision “Norway universally designed by 2025”, which requires action from different ministries (including the Minsitry of Education) about these questions. Our project will benefit from this, especially when it comes to working with policy makers in Higher Education, where Universell has extensive support when it comes to implementing UD as a strategy of inclusion.
AHEAD is a Non-governmental Organization (NGO). AHEAD has existed 26 years in Ireland, and has constantly sought to widen access to higher education for students with disabilities and promote opportunity for graduates with disabilities in the workplace. This has been achieved by working closely with its membership – all the universities and institutes of technology in Ireland (their academic staff, support staff, registrars and administrative staff) through the provision of training on universal design, inclusive curriculum and disability/equality training, a telephone helpline, a very informative website and annual conference and seminars. Ahead carries out research on participation rates of people with disabilities in higher education on behalf of the Higher Education Authority in Ireland. AHEAD’s comprehensive competence and extensive experience is perfect for UDLL. UDLL will also benefit from AHEAD’s close relationship to employers, which can act as an important reference group to secure relevance for UD as a strategy.
Howest University College West Flanders is a University of Applied Science, and the coordinator of SIHO, the Flemish Support Center for Inclusive Higher Education. SIHO supports each Flemish higher education institution, in order to create inclusive higher education. SIHO works closely together with policy and practice. Since 2011 the work of SIHO largely focusses on UDL and the implementation in higher education. In October 2011, SIHO organized a conference and invited, Skip Stahl, one of the co-founders of CAST. Since then SIHO is engaging people in different ways: 4-day coaching for lecturers, development of an UDL-website with an online UDL-training course and ICT-tools to make teaching and learning more accessible, Intensive training-days for lecturers, UDL-cartoon-contest and, support UDL-projects in different institutions. UDLL will benefit a lot from the experience SIHO has from their work with the academic staff, a perspective not explored in the other countries so far.
Howest implemented the UDL principles in the strategic plan 2008-2016, in the assessment policy and in the education policy in order to develop a flexible and competence-based education in a powerful learning environment. The Bachelor Social Work from Howest will specifically contribute in this project. The lecturers have experience in implementing Universal Design for Learning in their training program to meet the variety of learner’s needs.
All UDLL partners are central contributors to the active “LINK-network” which is made up of organizations, educational institutions, disability professionals, academics, students and interested individuals who all share the same ultimate goal, the full inclusion of students with disabilities in higher education. It was originally formed by six European countries as an LLP-project. The network will be an important help to disseminate project results and products in new countries.