Feb 05, 2021

ACCESS consortium held its first coordination virtual meeting of the year on 2nd February 2021. The online gathering was attended by 35 delegates from Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Greece and Spain,  representing all the 13 Higher Education Institutions and  3 national Ministries of Education which take part in the ACCESS project. The reunion centered around reviewing progress undertook during the last year and laid the basis for ACCESS project actions during the next months such as the upcoming online trainings on  inclusion and disability for 17-18 February.

ACCESS partners convened to celebrate the official approval of the extension of the project up to January 2024 on account of the disruption generated by COVID-19 pandemic within the pace of all project activities and the normal functioning of the University system in Cuba, Costa Rica and Dominican Republic as well as Spain.

ACCESS Meeting 3

Then, colleagues from the University of Alicante and University of Macedonia updated partners on the current status of the data collection for the Needs Analysis, which will describe the current situation on disability and inclusion at Higher Education level in Cuba, Costa Rica and Dominican Republic. It will provide a concrete timeframe to deliver the first version of this exercise by the end of February.

Afterwards, partners were informed of the next Capacity Building action of the ACCESS project. On 17th and 18th February, partners will be trained by the Digital Accessibility Unit of the University of Alicante on how to produce inclusive and accessible teaching materials. The interest from partners in the topic are high considering the current obligation to perform the majority of the academic interaction on remote basis due to the social distancing measures imposed in Cuba, Costa Rica and Dominican Republic.

Later, the Universidad CENFOTEC explained the procedure step by step to set up and formulate strategic plans for the brand-new Support Centers which are being created within the framework of ACCESS project. These Support Centers will become an instrumental service for students with disabilities to fully engage with all the elements of their higher education experience as well as build more inclusive campus for the whole university community.

ACCESS Meeting 3

The online  meeting continued with the TEC from Costa Rica detailing their plan to create Work Groups at national level to foster cooperation among the different Universities and the Ministries responsible for Higher Education at national level to articulate concrete policy progress on inclusion and disability.

Finally, ACCESS consortium agreed upon the next steps and project mobilities, looking forward for an amelioration of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide in order to allow for international mobility and resume face-to-face meetings. ACCESS partners are hopeful that they will be able to travel to Greece to continue with their trainings on inclusion and disability support policy at some point next summer.

ACCESS/“Promoting Accessibility of Students with Disability to Higher Education in Cuba, Costa Rica and Dominican Republic” is an Erasmus+ Key Action 2: Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices: Capacity-building in higher education, co-funded by the European Commission. The overall objective of the ACCESS project is to improve accessibility, ensure learning conditions and foster policy change towards inclusion for students with disabilities within the context of the Higher Education system in Costa Rica, Cuba and Dominican Republic via modern inclusion practices, training and networking. ACCESS will be implemented during the next 3 years and plans to return to face-to-face actions as soon as the COVID-19 pandemics allows to do it.