Screenshot of the website's homepage.

New website gives students with disabilities a helping hand

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A new website hopes to make higher education more accessible for students with disabilities by answering some of their most pressing questions, like 'Where can I find text-to-speech software?'

Read in English

For years, information services for students with a physical disability, learning difficulties or psychological problems have been far from perfect in the Netherlands. But that's about to change. The Dutch Ministry of Education has released funding for a new website set up by the Expertise Centre for Inclusive Education, in consultation with student organisations ISO and LSVb, and other interested parties. 

Titled Hoger Onderwijs Toegankelijk (Accessible Higher Education, Ed.) the website is available in both Dutch and English, although some pages still haven't been completely translated.

This is what I have
The home page asks students to select their needs (‘This is what I have’) and the obstacles they face (‘This is what I encounter’). Based in that information, visitors are directed to facilities and services tailored to their situation (‘This is what I need’). The solutions indicated include services provided by bodies like student financing organisation DUO and social security agency UWV.

A search bar also helps students to find support within their own educational institution. This functionality isn't perfect yet, however. For some institutions, visitors are immediately provided with the correct information, but in other cases they are just redirected to the institution's home page. Even so, the site often indicates a contact person so that students can at least ask for a specific name when calling the institution in question.

Work in progress
The website is still work in progress, admits a spokesperson for the Expertise Centre. “When universities and universities of applied sciences inform us about their changes, we implement them as quickly as possible. After the summer, there will be a campaign to raise awareness of the site.”

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