Preparation of teaching and learning materials (books, scripts, slides)
Examination processing and -laptop
Quiet room/preparation/study room for students
Peer counselling and support
Support at the JKU Service Point
AT-Lab for testing aids
Advice and support in contact with lecturers / administration
Advice and support for / during semesters abroad / stays abroad
Advice on sign language interpretation
Checking for accessibility (information, structures, premises & routes, examinations)
Arrangement of support for research (library)
Students with disabilities often use study literature with the help of assistive technologies on the computer/tablet.
For this purpose, it is necessary to convert books, handouts, journals and other sources of information into digital form and to make the text of these media readable on the computer.
Through cooperation with publishers and authors, we then receive documents in pdf format in most cases, which we adapt to the needs of the students and forward. In doing so, we follow processing guidelines that have been worked out together with students. The Institute is constantly negotiating with publishers and authors to obtain this service free of charge for our students - if there is no accessible eBook version of the title.
An increasingly important area of the Institute's work concerns the coordination and organisation of adapted examinations for students, which are stipulated both in the UG 2002 (§2, Abs. 11; §59 Abs. 1 Zi. 12) and in the development report / statutes of the JKU Linz within their framework.
Close cooperation with the Vice Rectorate for Academic Affairs as the final decision-making authority, the JKU's Studies and Examinations Department and the participating institutes with their course leaders means that the optimal individual framework for taking examinations can normally be set up for all students. As a result, examinations are both barrier-free and correspond to the examination regulations and mainstream examination in terms of quantity and quality.
The possible adaptations range from oral instead of written delivery, enlarged copies of the information (up to A3) and writing the examination on a laptop to typing assistance (dictation by the student is noted as an answer on the examination paper) - in each case with and without extension of the examination time. The decisive factor for the adaptation and the examination method here (in addition to the study regulations) is solely the form and degree of disability as well as the type and scope of the examination to be taken.
In addition, since the beginning of 2012, the Institute has had its own room in which up to 3 students can take exams at the same time (depending on the type of support required). This room is equipped with 3 computer workstations (2 of which are fully equipped workstations for the blind and visually impaired), which exactly meet the requirements of the examination situation (materials, internet and network blocking,...).
Technical support and accessibility of exams and study literature are important activities of the Institute for Integrated Studies and mainstays of the service. However, in order to complete a degree programme successfully, a number of other skills and abilities are required (e.g. social and communicative skills). In order to cover this area at the Institute, a multi-level concept was introduced. There are WhatsApp groups with and without the participation of the "Service" department and a joint activity is planned at least once a semester (more often if the occasion arises) (e.g. beginning-of-semester breakfast, punch, etc...) in which all interested students can participate.
We have set up a quiet / study / work and examination room for our students.
In addition to the possibility of working there with their own devices (electricity and internet available), this room has two fully accessible, simultaneously usable workstations for the blind and visually impaired:
2 laptops (HP EliteBook / HP Probook)
2 24" screens on swivel arms
2 Braille displays 40 (Braille output for blind students)
2 sets keyboard / mouse
2 headsets (for speech output)
Software (to operate the Brailledisplay and speech output / magnification):
Jaws (2 licences)
Zoomtext (for magnification of the screen output)
Primarily, exams are held in this room, but the room and the equipment are also available to students with disabilities for working and learning.
In addition, training sessions are organised as needed to provide special support to our students and make them fit for a course of study/career:
Especially at the beginning of the studies, but also in later phases, it is an advantage to get information from "first hand", be it of a subject-specific or disability-specific nature.
Accordingly, we establish contact between students (at their request), who then decide on the type, content and scope of further meetings on their own responsibility and in this way receive individual and tailor-made support and can exchange information.
The participation of students with disabilities in courses is more common at JKU than at other universities. Most course instructors have already had contact with our students or send students who are not (yet) aware of the services offered by Integrated Studies to our counselling service.
Nevertheless, contact with people with disabilities and / or chronic illnesses is not yet the norm at a university and thus brings both the administration as well as teachers and (fellow) students into unfamiliar situations. These situations can lead to communication problems, uncertainties and sometimes, unfortunately, (un)consciously violent reactions in the daily hectic.
This creates pressure on the weakest link, the students with disabilities. To counteract this process, the Institute takes on the role of a mediator, especially at the beginning of the studies.
Simply establishing contact, explaining the situation and the need for support, which is not a softening of requirements, not a levelling "down", not a handout granted, but a legally regulated and, depending on the individual situation, stipulated compensation for disadvantages must take place in a timely manner and on an equal footing, which is much easier for an institution with institute status.
If problems arise in the course of studies, the institute supports finding solutions. Cooperation with institutions such as the Austrian Student Union and the Psychological Student Counselling Service is very important here. The goal is to reduce these services for our students over time, because dealing with and managing such situations is an important qualification for students with disabilities for the future.
For non-linguistically oriented, deaf students, German is a foreign or second language because sign language is their mother tongue. Accordingly, there is a desire and requirement to offer sign language interpretation.
So far, there have only been a few such requests at JKU, but they made it clear that they far exceed the capacities of the institute.
In cooperation with the Health Centre for the Deaf of the Institute for Sensory and Speech Neurology of the Convent Hospital "Barmherzige Brüder" in Linz, a concept is therefore being sought with which, on the one hand, sign language interpretation could be offered and, at the same time, the spoken language competence of prospective students and students could be increased through preparatory and bridge courses.
In parallel, technical possibilities for supporting deaf students are being researched.
Although there are many barrier-free areas on the JKU campus, the campus cannot generally be described as barrier-free. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that most of the buildings were built at a time when accessibility was not important; on the other hand, it must be noted that our institute is not or cannot be involved in all current planning processes.
In any case, we are endeavouring to promote accessibility on campus, and especially awareness of it, and have already achieved quite a bit in this regard despite the difficulties mentioned. We inspect existing and new buildings on campus for accessibility and seek contact with those responsible in case of danger.
If someone notices a barrier on the JKU campus, we ask for a message (including "where", "when" - date and time - and "what"). Often the situation can then be dealt with very quickly and flexibly and remedial action can be taken, or at least a solution can be found that our students can "deal with".
Blind students often need mobility training. We do not offer this training ourselves, but can provide good contacts to trainers.
Students with disabilities often have problems when searching for literature. Whether it is because they cannot find an accessible version of the books or - like all other students - first want to get a quick overview what the works found online are really about, or whether it is because the area of the (subject) library in which the reader/work is located cannot be accessed and rolled over without barriers.
In these cases, there is a possibility of getting support in this area by means of a borrowable copy card as well as a number of tutor hours to be agreed upon in advance with the institute.
If more hours are required, we are happy to arrange for people who can take on these tasks.