National Student Disability Support
Since 1993, Stockholm University has had a special assignment commonly referred to as “national funds for students with disabilities” or “national funds for targeted study support”. It can be described as a shared grant for all higher education institutions that is managed by Stockholm University.
The assignment is given on an annual basis in the appropriation directions. The aim of the grant is to partly cover high costs for personal study support for disabled students in order to remove or bridge barriers in the study situation.
Cooperation a prerequisite
A prerequisite for Stockholm University to carry out this task is, of course, cooperation with all higher education institutions in Sweden, and also with other authorities, state agencies and relevant interest organizations in this field.
However, the primary cooperation takes place in a network for collaboration between all the coordinators for targeted study support at the higher education institutions - the Coordinators' Network - and in a national reference group where nine higher education institutions are represented.
Forms of cooperation
The primary and most active consultative group for the coordinator of the "national funds" at Stockholm University, is a national reference group where nine higher education institutions are represented through their coordinators. The members of the reference group are nominated relating to various topical issues and for a period of 2-3 years.
The group assembles once each semester to discuss current topics, to follow up ongoing work and projects in working groups, and to plan conferences and seminars for all coordinators at the higher education institutions. All coordinators who so wish can take part in the national Coordinators' Network.
Cooperation with the National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools (SPSM)
Stockholm University, through the coordinator of the national funds, also cooperates with the SPSM (National Agency for Special Needs Education and Schools). In recent years, the collaboration has mostly concerned the extensive and growing mentorship activity in higher education. Mentor support involves helping students to organize and plan studies, making agreements and following them up together with the student. The mentors are either experienced students who have been recruited and trained for the task, or professional mentors on-site or via the web.
Mentor support is mainly offered students with difficulties planning their studies, and as a complement to other kinds of support relating to study techniques available to all students.
In a collaboration between Stockholm University, Lund University and SPSM, a "Mentor handbook" was created (2013) with practical advice to mentors as well as the students receiving the support. The handbook focuses on thoughts, tips and advice on how a mentorship can be established, defined (setting boundaries), carried out, evaluated and concluded.
NNDC - a Nordic cooperation
In the spring 2008 a Nordic network was formed by the different national coordinator networks/equivalent in Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden. It is called the Nordic Network for Disability Coordinators/equivalent (NNDC).
The LINK Network
Additionally, in 2008 a European network was formed, with support from the EU lifelong learning programme. This network is called The LINK Network, where LINK is an acronym for Learning Inclusively Network + Know-how. It is led by partner organizations from seven countries: Belgium (Flanders), Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Great Britain and Sweden.
The assignment in more detail
Stockholm University collects and compiles, on an annual basis, data from all Swedish higher education institutions on their costs for targeted study support for students with disabilities in the study situation. At the same time, the numbers of known students are collected.
The information about costs that Stockholm University collects, only concerns study support through personnel efforts offered, directly targeted to and involving students with disabilites; either individually or as a group.
Thereafter, all the higher education institutions whose costs during a calendar year exceed the equivalent of 0,3 % of their government funding for undergraduate education, will receive a portion of the national funds.
The annual report
The assignment also involves compiling data on the known numbers of disabled students at the higher education institutions. The report is to be presented on a national level.
Thereafter, the information about the study support and a summary of the costs for the measures, is presented in Stockholm University's annual report, together with the compiled data on the known number of students with disabilities, grouped by disability area and gender. In the annual report, a short text should also describe various initiatives throughout the year that have improved the study conditions for the students in question. In this way, an overall picture of the situation is presented in one place.
The Coordinators' Network
At all universities and institutions of higher education there are contact persons who are coordinators for study support for students who face barriers or experience disabilities in their study situation.
In a meeting with a coordinator, the student can discuss her or his study plans, possible needs for study support in relation to the studies to be pursued, or adjustments of the study conditions.
The study support
The targeted study support involves different measures in order to erase, compensate or overcome obstacles that could arise in the study situation. It could also be measures to compensate for inadequate accessibility in the study conditions and the study environment of a higher education institution. The situation varies, of course, depending on the individual students, their choice of subjects, the learning environments, the subject fields and the choices within these fields, etc.
Provide tools and opportunities
With the exception of interpreting in educational settings (i.e. sign language interpreting and real time captioning) and literature in an adapted medium (audio/talking books, etc.), the study support should primarily be seen as help to self-help. An important aim of many types of support is to provide the student with the tools and opportunities to develop skills in order to be as independent and successful as possible in their studies.
When it comes to adjustments at examinations, the coordinator can often only recommend different forms of support and adjustment, as it is the department/teacher/examiner that decides whether a recommended measure is possible to implement in relation to the syllabus and the learning outcomes and learning goals.
A prerequisite for obtaining targeted study support is that the student can verify a non-temporary disability that may affect the study situation, through a certificate from a qualified person.
The Swedish Agency for Accessible Media (MTM) and Legimus
The mandate of the MTM (the Swedish Agency for Accessible Media) is to inform and raise awareness and spread knowledge about talking books, braille, easy-to-read literature and news, audio papers and reading (print) impairments.
The MTM also makes sign language literature accessible, provide support to talking newspapers and periodicals, and actively participate in the development of accessible media. (Please see paragraph 17 of the Copyright Act on the possibility of literature in accessible formats.)
Course literature in adapted and accessible formats
The MTM also has the mandate to provide students with a reading disability access to course literature in media appropriate to them. All produced literature can be found in "Legimus" - the online catalogue of the MTM. Students with a reading disability can turn to the local library at the higher education institution where they are studying, for more information and library services.
Last updated: October 7, 2020
Source: Student Services