Over twenty years ago, the UM set up the Special Needs Committee, which was our very first initiative towards facilitate tertiary education for students with disabilities. The aim was not merely to open access for disabled students but also to ensure that they have a reasonable opportunity to complete their chosen course successfully. Initially, emphasis was mainly placed on physical disabilities. Physical access has increased considerably over the past two decades, and we are still working towards achieving comprehensive physical accessibility on campus.
Along the years the number of students with different disabilities who were granted access arrangements increased steadily. A decade ago, the Access Disability Support Committee (ADSC) was set up, to take further the work that had been carried out by its predecessor, the Special Needs Committee. Thanks to the work of the ADSC, significant progress has been registered in the area of inclusion.
One of the latest developments has been the approval by Senate of changes in the regulations which permit students with disability with a shortfall in the required qualifications at SEC level to enter courses, as long as the shortfall is due to a significant disability and it does not interfere with their area of study. This exemption is particularly beneficial for students on the autism spectrum and those with dyscalculia. We also made another significant step towards inclusion when the University started to allow dyslexic students the use computers with enabled spell checkers during their exams, as long as spelling is not one of the assessment objectives.
In the course of our work we have also realised that there were many students and members if staff that struggle with mental health issues. For several years, the Human Resources Management & Development has organised mental health first aid courses in collaboration with the Richmond Foundation, which means that a good number of people are trained in this area.
In 2018, the University inaugurated the Health and Wellness Centre that brought together our Counselling Services, Mental Health practitioners (that include psychiatrists and a social worker), together with sexual health and substance abuse advisors. All this has helped to further promote inclusivity and it has helped to improve the general wellbeing of staff and students. Disabilities, together with the intersections of gender, race, ethnicity and other sphere of diversity are at the heart of our community.
Pro-Rector Professor Carmen Sammut
Chairperson, ACCESS Disability Support Committee