New OSCE-Supported Report Shines Light on AUA’s Pioneering Disabilities Services

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YEREVAN, Armenia – On February 24, 2015, Unison NGO, with the support of the OSCE Office in Yerevan, presented its report on ‘Physical and Programmatic Accessibility, as well as Academic Inclusiveness of Higher Education for Persons with Disabilities.’ The report surveyed 29 higher education institutions (HEIs) across Armenia and evaluated their accessibility for those with disabilities. The American University of Armenia (AUA) was the only HEI surveyed to have a campus physically accessible and to have developed policies for organizing the educational process for students with disabilities.

Since its inception in 1991, AUA has made a special effort to ensure that its former Soviet-era Main Building can accommodate people with disabilities. The campus currently has ramps outside and inside the building, reserved handicap parking spaces, and renovated restrooms for easy use. Moreover, the state-of-the-art Paramaz Avedisian Building is fully designed to meet the needs of people with physical disabilities.

AUA has also taken care to provide services to those with mental or learning disabilities through the Center for Student Success, which coordinates meetings between students and teachers, resulting in an individualized approach to education that also ensures confidentiality. Issues of disability are often incorporated into the curriculum and discussed in the classroom, meaning students and faculty are socially aware and accepting of those with special circumstances.

AUA is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission and meets its requirements for accessibility for people with disabilities. Additionally, it is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer, meaning no applicant or employee can be discriminated against based on factors such as physical or mental disability or a medical condition. Guests of AUA can also request special assistance in the case of a disability.

Armen Alaverdian, a Unison NGO representative, remarked, “AUA has done everything to make its main building accessible for people with disabilities. It is not a matter of construction restraints, but a matter of civic responsibility.”

The report showed that 0.5% of students and 0.7% of faculty in Armenia are handicapped, however 86.1% of those people do not even consider applying to a HEI, either because the campus is not handicap friendly or because of societal intolerance. Attitudes toward disabled people at HEIs are improving, however, as the report showed that 93.9% of disabled students have never encountered any discrimination from their peers. That number is even higher for disabled faculty members.

Further details about the report findings can be read in the coverage below.–buhic-miayn-mekn-e-fizikapes-hasaneli-henasharzhoxakan.html

The report in Armenian can be found here

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.

The American University of Armenia is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission, 985 Atlantic Avenue, #100, Alameda, CA 94501, 510.748.9001.