Inclusive education


Although the representation of people with disabilities in the university is scarce, taking into account the percentage of people with disabilities in the age range of 20 to 29 years, their presence in the Spanish university classrooms has gradually increased in the last two decades The regulatory support that has encouraged the principle of non-discrimination and equality of opportunities has clearly contributed to this, as well as the adoption of positive action measures to ensure the full and effective participation of these students.

The regulatory framework is extensive and indicates the need to adopt a curriculum model that facilitates the learning and promotion of students in their diversity. The 2007 Spanish Law LOU warned universities about favouring the creation of specific programs so that people with disabilities, victims of terrorism and gender violence, could receive personalized help and the relevant curricular supports and adaptations. Currently, the Student Statute and the Student Statute of the University of Alicante include curricular adaptation as a specific right of the student who has a disability situation, specific needs for educational support, elite athletes, victims of gender violence, maternity, attention to dependents and work activity.


European Higher Education and Functional Diversity Area

The EHEA has meant a change focusing higher education on the student, on his work, on his personal effort and consideration of his specificities, objectives and needs, and also on lifelong learning, in the autonomy and student commitment, in mobility and in the quality of the institution.

In this space, attention to competences (ECTS) opens up a world of possibilities to achieve the participation of students who face some type of obstacle in their higher education, whether it is due to health, cultural, social, economic or other condition.

And at the same time, it opens the eyes of the teaching staff to take into account the abilities, attitudes and needs of students with disabilities and not their deficiencies. This is the commitment that the space born in Bologna encourages in the teaching staff. A change of attitude and conception towards different capacities


Universal Design for Learning

The Universal Design for Learning is a concept that is inspired by the movement of Universal Design emerged in the United States to defend a design without architectural barriers, accessible to all people. In the industry, it refers to the design of services and products that can be used by the widest possible spectrum of individuals without the need to make adaptations or special designs, regardless of their age, capacity or living condition. In the educational world it is nourished by concepts that come from neuroscience and cognitive psychology.

In the classical view, students are the ones who must adapt to the printed materials, the traditionally used means, so that didactic and material proposals must be made personalized to the needs of the students, to their diversity.

From the perspective of Universal Design for Learning, the real challenge is to provide learning opportunities in the general education curriculum that are inclusive and effective for all students. That is, from the very beginning of the design of the curriculum, take into account the diversity of the classroom to make proposals that give the opportunity to all students to access and participate.

The DUA is based on three primary principles (explanatory video UDL)

  1. Provide multiple means of representation: perceptual aspects; language, expressions and symbols; comprehensive

  2. Provide multiple means of action and expression: physical effort; Expression and communication; executive function

  3. Provide multiple means of commitment: capture interest; maintain effort and persistence; self-regulation

Associated with three types of brain networks:

  1. Recognition networks

  2. Strategic networks

  3. Affective networks


In particular, the principles of the Universal Design for Learning (Universal Instruction Design, UID) according to CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology) 

  • Accessible and equitable teaching activities and materials
  • Flexible teaching activities and materials
  • Explicit and clear teaching activities and materials
  • Teaching-learning environment conducive to learning
  • Teaching-learning environment with minimal physical effort
  • Appropriate teaching-learning environment


Inclusive strategies

"Inclusive Education is a process aimed at addressing the diversity of needs of all students through increasing participation in learning, cultural environments and communities, and at the same time reducing exclusion within and from the educational environment. This requires changing and modifying contents, approaches, structures and strategies, with a common approach that includes all children of the corresponding age group and with the conviction that it is the responsibility of the regular system to educate all children "(UNESCO, 2005).

If everything flows, nothing remains and everything changes for Heraclitus (a.C.), for governments and education systems it could be said that everything remains and nothing changes. The tangible reality is very different from the claim of UNESCO, changes take a long time.

There is nevertheless a need to overcome the debate and generate a real practice that democratises access to education and repairs the gaps in terms of learning outcomes and skills acquisition.

Maybe we will be somehow rescued by the focus on competencies outlined in the EHEA since it shows a wide range of possibilities, so that the definition of the aims pursued in the teaching-learning process is not restricted. Rather, it is a frame of reference that includes knowledge, abilities, and personal skills of students put in place to achieve the objectives set out in the curriculum.

Teachers in this context are not mere spectators, far from it, their role is fundamental as it always has been, to foster a welcoming, accepting, learning-friendly environment, open to addressing the diversity of profiles and ways of learning of the students.

In inclusive education, teachers are encouraged to move from the discourse of deviance that establishes hierarchies by placing each student according to their cognitive skills towards inclusive discourse that emphasizes the learning potential of each student that must be discovered and stimulated in a progressive way.


Following Verdugo and others (2011), the EHEA offers us a new paradigm for the promotion of equal opportunities, the Universal Design for Learning one, and they also describes in their guide a series of performance indicators and good practices that range from accessibility to the physical environment, the virtual space, the academic and the policy and procedures of the university institution in pursuit of achieving performance standards for programs and services for university students with disabilities.


Types of functional diversity


Types of support products