Istanbul University is on its way to becoming an ‘Accessible University’ with the help of Disability Research Applied Center.
There have been lots of studies carried out to solve disabled students’ problems, to make their learning process easier and to make it possible for them to live their lives under the same circumstances as their fellow students. We talked about the process of becoming an accessible university with IU Disability Research Applied Center Director Prof. Dr. Resa Aydın.
Prof. Dr. Aydın, who indicated that IU Disability Applied Research Center has been providing service since 2002, said “We have academicians who work very hard since the very beginning. We have been working to include the disabled students into academic and social life. After the students get accepted, they receive a congratulations letter that also contains information about Disability Applied Research Center. The offices of the disability service coordinators are located at our Beyazıt and Avcılar campuses. The registered students receive informations about the locations and they immediately know where to consult if they have any compliance problems.”
Prof. Dr. Aydın talked about how they have been working for the disabled personnel as well since 2010 and said, “When working for accessibility, we decided to include our personnel into this study. We made a list of our disabled personnel and contacted them. As a center, we work about the disabled people in Turkey and we have included Istanbul University personnel into our work since 2010. There have been some people among our personnel that we connected well and continued to work with. We had the chance to dwell on this subject in more detail with the establishment of ‘Disabled Personnel Commission’”.
“We Need to Help Our Disabled Students Socialize”
Stating that they have been working as Disability Applied Research Center for approximately 14 years, Prof. Dr. Aydın indicated: “Disabled people do not like things done only for them. That is why all activities should be merged. Therefore we do not organize any activities solely for the disabled. For example, last year we did a tree planting activity and announced it to all our students, both disabled and nondisabled. We were about 150-200 people there. Our disabled students were there too. They had the chance to meet and socialize with nondisabled students. Therefore we always try to make the activities more merged with each other and by bringing different things into focus and doing different things together, we try to raise awareness.”
“We Design Buildings to be Accessible”
Prof. Dr. Aydın indicated that disabled people usually have problems with architectural accessibility and said “No matter how good an activity is, if the person cannot reach the activity area, there is no point. Or if that person cannot communicate when he/she arrives, again, there is no point. The new buildings should be designed accessible for disabled. We try to coordinate these sort of services. Multiple of our faculties have been restored and reshaped to make them more accessible for the disabled.”
“We Provide Service to All Students Across Turkey”
Mentioning the “Disability Information Center” that opened in 2010, Prof. Dr. Aydın said “Disability Information Center is one of the strongest institutions in Turkey right now. Library for the blind will soon provide service for the hearing impaired too. We produce audio books and coordinate all the other libraries that produce audio books. It is an extensive library and we use the technology perfectly. We provide service not only to our students but to all students across Turkey.”
Prof. Dr. Aydın stated that there is a strong instruction about the education of the disabled students and how they should be entitled to the same education as their fellow students, she said “When a problem occurs, we use the advantage of these instructions. We give all our supports to this cause to make sure that our disabled students receive the same education as everyone else.”. Stating that Istanbul University is on its way to becoming an accessible university, Prof. Dr. Aydın said “Istanbul University is currently taking big steps to becoming accessible. We also try to be stronger to help it happen.”
“We Need to Raise Awareness of Disability Research”
Stating the importance of the new and emerging projects, Prof. Dr. Aydın said “We want to end the neediness and make the disabled take control of their lives and fit into society. To gain this perspective requires a serious fight. There is a new discipline, a new science under which all kinds of disability related problems are handled and it is called ‘Disability Research’. It contains architecture, sociology, health and legal system, human rights, psychology, education and communication issues. We handle all these under the same topic. After multiple studies on this subject, we created a post-graduate program that YÖK approved. We will train academicians who will carry out numerous academic studies using a holistic approach and will base practices on scientific foundations.”
Indicating that the First Disability Research Conference will be held on 24-26 November 2016 with the intent of introducing people to disability research and raising awareness, Prof. Dr. Aydın said, “Social scientists, legal experts and academicians will attend the conference. Most of the sessions will cover the issues of visual and hearing impairment. Academy, public sector, private sector and civil society will gather in Istanbul for the First Disability Research Conference. We expect 450-500 in attendance. We announced this all across the country. At the end of the first day of the conference, there will be a meeting called ‘Disability Research Network’. We want to gather with disabled people who work for the rights of the disabled. We want to create this network. It will be an honor for us to be the first university in our country to provide the necessary education to the people who are willing to take these studies further.”
Translated by: Eda Aydemir
IU Department of Press and Public Relations