USIU-Africa champions disability inclusion at Zero Project Conference

By Brenda Odhiambo

Last week, USIU-Africa was represented at the Zero Project Conference (ZeroCon24), which took place at the UN Offices in Vienna, Austria. The conference is a unique global meeting place to innovate for disability inclusion. This year's topics were Inclusive Education, and ICT, with sessions revolving around the 77 Zero Project Awardees’ innovative solutions, complemented by contributions from Inclusive Education and ICT Experts, and representatives of the global Disability Inclusion Community.

Mr. Eannes Ongus, Director of Advancement & Partnerships at USIU-Africa, shared the university's ongoing commitment to creating an inclusive campus environment. Emphasizing the high priority placed on accessibility and support for students with disabilities, Mr. Ongus highlighted some of the university's key successes in this area, including: the establishment of a Disability Inclusion Resource Centre filled with assistive technology and staffed with sign language interpreters, disability experts and other support staff, mainstreaming of a Disability and Inclusion Policy, which has transformed the university into a truly inclusive institution, the recruitment of students with disabilities, with 72 students with disabilities currently enrolled at the university, which has been achieved through the support of key partner institutions, including the Mastercard Foundation and Light for the World and the establishment of a Sign Language Club, which has membership from across the campus community.

The session also featured various speakers who highlighted different strategies to enhance university inclusion in their universities in Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the United States of America.

"For universities to truly embody inclusivity, it requires a multifaceted approach. This involves investing in capacity building initiatives, allocating sufficient budgetary resources to support the promotion of on-campus accessibility, establishing clear policies and procedures around Disability Inclusion, fostering strategic partnerships, and unwavering support from organizational leadership,” he said.

A recording of the session can be watched here.

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