Students with special needs
The University provides a number of services for disabled students, designed to ensure that they have proper access while pursuing their studies and are able to participate fully in the university life. Services can be requested by students enrolled on degree and PhD courses and attending specialization schools, in accordance with current statutory regulations and, in particular, with the terms of the Carta dei servizi (services) and specific regulations issued by the Disability and Handicap Commission.
Studying and Working
The University offers guidance initiatives designed especially with disabled persons in mind, intended to help them in making their choice of the higher education programme best suited to their needs and most likely to meet their career expectations. The University also evaluates which individually tailored methods of taking entry tests will be necessary, in view of the practical difficulties experienced by the applicant. Applicants must submit a specific request to the Disability Service, attaching a copy of their certificate of invalidity, in accordance with procedures and deadlines governing enrolment for the tests. The University encourages and facilitates the attendance of disabled students at events designed to help with the choice of study programmes, such as Open Days, meetings and seminars. Personalized meetings can also be organized, if requested, to help disabled persons in making their choice of the higher education programme best suited to their needs and most likely to meet their career expectations. As regards the entry tests for enrolment on courses, disabled students can ask to sit the tests under special conditions – such as an allowance of extra time, or the help of a carer when responding to questionnaires – designed to take account of their particular situation and their specific difficulties. In this instance, applicants must submit a specific request to the Disability Service, attaching a copy of their certificate of invalidity, in accordance with procedures and deadlines governing enrolment for the tests.
Students with a hearing impairment can secure teaching support by applying for assistance from a sign language interpreter (LIS for Italian speakers) or a shorthand typing service.
The LIS service (Lingua Italiana dei Segni) is provided by qualified professionals, selected with the help of ENS (National Deaf-mute Association), with the aim of enabling students to take part in lessons and sit examinations, as well as attending seminars, meetings with teaching staff and other learning activities taking place during study courses and organized on the Padua campus.
A classroom shorthand typing service is also available: this allows lessons and lectures to be taken down in writing in real time. Accordingly, the content can be viewed on a screen by the student and simultaneously saved in digital format on a computer. At the end of the lesson, the file containing the transcribed text is handed to the student. The shorthand typing service is available not only to students with impaired hearing but also to those with any motor disability making it difficult for them to take notes. To facilitate the choice of university courses in which sign language or shorthand typing services can be used, the administration has established a procedure in collaboration with the Tutoring service, whereby the student identifies the courses of interest and submits a request for the preferred service (sign language interpreter or shorthand typist) to the Disability Service by filling in a relative form. The Disability Service will proceed to organize the requested service, in agreement with the tutor and the course teacher, within the limits of the directives issued every year by the Disability and Handicap Commission and the regulations established for the single service.
To favour the right of education for disabled students, specific tutoring initiatives are available, aimed principally at the early stages of studies, with individual methods that take into account the needs of single students. The service is intended for students enrolled on the first and second years of degree courses, but can also be provided for subsequent years at the request of the student and subject to assessment by the Rector’s delegate and by a Referee. The service is delivered by specially selected and trained senior students, or by other staff, in accordance with the Tutoring and on the basis of specific needs and subject matter expertise.
In the case of disabilities that preclude the possibility of sitting examinations in the normal way, the student must request alternative arrangements at least one week beforehand, whereupon the Disability Service will contact the teacher involved, indicating any measures that must be applied and providing the necessary staff and instrumentation. Help in complying with administrative procedures can also be provided, if requested, in cases where the student has difficulty in visiting the offices of the University unassisted.
While not actually affected by particular neurological diseases and sensory deficits, dyslexic persons are now deemed (under Italian Law n° 170 of 2010), to suffer from a condition falling with the scope of Specific Learning Difficulties that can represent a serious limitation on certain activities in everyday life.
Law 170/2010 establishes the objective, amongst others, of guaranteeing the right to education for persons with Specific Learning Difficulties, and imposes on universities, like other institutions, the task of identifying the forms of teaching and methods of assessment best able to ensure success in training. Under the University of Padova’s current policy, dyslexic persons are able to request a 30% extension of the standard time allowed when taking tests for admission to degree courses. In addition, administrators will assess the need for further support within the academic programme, if requested, on the basis of guidelines in the decree of 12 July 2011 emanated by the Ministry for Education, Universities and Research in implementation of Law 170/2010. Dyslexic students intending to inform the University of their condition must do so by filling in a form and sending it to the Disability Service, together with documentation of the diagnosis performed by structures recognized by the National Health Service, pending publication of the Agreement between State and Regions on the diagnosis of dyslexia.
The University seeks to favour work placements within the scope of study programmes, and to advise and liaise on the employment of disabled undergraduates and graduates, not least in collaboration with outside organizations, taking account of the specific skills acquired and of personal attributes.
Fees and scholarships
Total exemption is reserved for disabled students enrolled for degree and PhD courses or attending specialization schools, and having a level of invalidity confirmed by committees of the National Health Service as being between 66% and 100%. In this instance, a single instalment is payable on enrolment.
Partial exemption, on the other hand, is obtainable for students with a level of invalidity recognized as being between 50% and 65% and income (ISEE declaration - Equivalent Economic Status Index) no higher than € 21,000. In this instance, only the first instalment of the fees is payable.
Students having a disability recognized by the National Health Service are entitled to special benefits in view of the impact that their condition can have on the progress of their studies, on the hardships they may experience, and on the expense incurred in attending the university.
The certified percentage of invalidity is instrumental first and foremost in determining their income (ISEE declaration - Equivalent Economic Status Index) and their Equivalent Assets Index (ISPE): the immediate family unit is increased typically by a factor of two in the case of students with an invalidity certified at between 66% and 80%, and three in the case of students with an invalidity certified at 80% or higher. Invalidity is also taken into account in order to balance the credits required against the number of years for which the scholarship can be assigned.
Disabled students can ask to be accompanied to and from different parts of the campus to sit examinations, comply with administrative procedures and take part in lessons, workshops and meetings with teachers. The service is provided mainly by volunteers.
The service also utilizes specially equipped vehicles, reserved primarily for students with motor disabilities. For other types of disability, students will be accompanied generally on public transport.
The Esu currently provides 26 beds for students affected by motor disabilities, each with a specially equipped bathroom, and accommodation for their carers. Accommodation is also available for the visually impaired (tactile signage, accommodation for guide-dog and arrangements for carers) and for the deaf (luminous signs and fax machine).
Two domotic apartments also became available during the 2009/2010 academic year. The term "domotics” is derived from the expression domotique, a combination of the Latin domus and the French informatique. The aim of domotics is to create a ‘smart’ dwelling, by integrating communication functions into all electrically operated devices. The effect is to simplify and optimize everyday actions in the home (opening doors and windows, controlling the heating system, switching lights on and off, activating household electrical appliances...); enhance the safety of occupants (detection of gas leaks, fire and flood prevention, intruder alarm systems...); and allow connection to remote assistance services (telecare, telemonitoring, telemedicine...) and other general services (internet shopping, home banking, information services, etc.).
The Disability Service department houses a library run by staff specializing in the provision of services to students with disabilities. Among the facilities available are access to bibliographic research tools, inter-library lending, reproduction of documents in the possession of the Library (Document Delivery), and the procurement of material in alternative formats to suit different types of disability. As regards the provision of items in alternative formats, the time needed for their preparation may vary depending on the number of pages, the type of text and the format requested.
The “C.Offelli” computer classroom is equipped with workstations for persons with impaired vision (special monitors, Braille printer and bar code scanner, enlarging software, voice-synthesis devices...), with motor disability (electronically height-adjustable desktop, alternative input systems, joysticks, shielded keyboards, voice-recognition, page-turners...) and students with dyslexia (conceptual map software, voice synthesis, reading aids). To enter the classroom, the user must supply a code and a password, which will give access to the reserved area.
Also available to students are a multimedia room equipped with an interactive whiteboard, and a room equipped for one-to-one sessions with tutors. The Disability Service also has certain computer and technological aids that can be accessed by students who ask to use them. Users can also request the loan of certain specific instruments that must be returned at the end of the teaching activity for the academic year during which they are requested.
The University encourages students with disabilities to take part in sporting activities, and especially paralympic disciplines.
The launch of a Wheelchair Basketball programme in 2006, in collaboration with CUS Padova, has also enabled many disabled students to take part in training sessions and competitive games. The Cus Padova team plays currently in the second division, Serie B, and is coached by a disabled student. A factor of key importance in carrying forward this project has been the role of volunteers, both in supporting the players and in organizing and promoting the activities of the team.
The involvement of students in sport, including individuals with disabilities, is also promoted through special initiatives and sporting events.