Having signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in December 2008, the Federal Republic of Germany is committed to implementing inclusive thinking and actions in all areas of society – including university education. In particular, Article 24 outlines specific steps on the way to a university “for everyone” – a wording that the German Rectors' Conference (Hochschulrektorenkonferenz) also includes in its 2009 recommendation and that sums up the very essence of inclusion (cf. Federal Government Commissioner for Matters relating to Persons with Disabilities 2017, German Rectors' Conference 2013). People with disabilities and/or chronic conditions who have the formal qualifications must consequently be granted full access to the university, equal participation, good working conditions, and the possibility of obtaining academic degrees. With the adoption of this Inclusion Concept for students and employees with disabilities and/or chronic conditions, the University of Potsdam is making a significant contribution to the deconstruction of barriers as well as to the implementation of the prohibition of discriminatory treatment as stipulated in Article 3, subsection 3 of the German Basic Law (GG) and further specified in the Equal Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities Act (BGG), the Ninth Book of the Social Code (SGB IX), the Federal Participation Act (BTHG), and the General Act on Equal Treatment (AGG).
The University of Potsdam’s Inclusion Concept is made up of four parts: a general section and three fields of action. The general section and the field of action “Studies and Teaching” were developed by the Commissioner for Students with Disabilities and/or Chronic Conditions and by the staff of the ESF project “One University for Everyone - Inclusive Studies” at the Central Student Advisory Office (ZSB) of the University of Potsdam. This process was carried out in cooperation with the leadership of the Division of Student Affairs, the Equal Opportunity Coordination Office (KfC), the Center for Teaching Quality Development (ZfQ) with the units Career Service und Higher Education Studies (Hochschulstudien), representatives of the faculties, the General Students' Committee (AStA) and numerous other individuals.
The preliminary results of this collaboration between the departments mentioned above were publicly presented to the university during the online workshop “One University for Everyone – Towards an Inclusion Concept for the University of Potsdam” on September 18, 2020, and discussed with students and staff from various departments of the university. The goals and measures that were ultimately laid out in this Inclusion Concept were presented publicly to the university and the state on December 1, 2020 at the online event “One University for Everyone – the University of Potsdam on the Way to an Inclusive University” thanks to funding from the State Commissioner for People with a Disability.
The section for university employees was drawn up by the Commissioner for Employees with Disabilities and/or Chronic Conditions together with relevant employees from the Division of Human Resources as well as the Staff Council and the Advisor for Quality Management in the Administration (Chancellor’s Office). This process was carried out in close consultation with the Representative Body for Employees with Disabilities (SBV). This section documents and consolidates the interests of both the employee and employer perspectives into a comprehensive guide for the structured elimination of barriers in the work environment that is higher education. The basis for this section is the Ninth Book of the German Social Code (SGB IX) and the associated regulations on the rehabilitation and participation of people with disabilities, although the stated goals and measures go far beyond the legally prescribed guidelines.
The section on digital accessibility was developed in cooperation with the Center for Information Technology and Media Management (ZIM). The results produced by the Digital Accessibility steering group were also taken into account. The section on accessibility of buildings and structures was developed by a working group together with the Construction, Occupational Safety, Organization (BSO) unit. The results of the Mobile Accessibility working group have been incorporated in the process.
The Inclusion Concept aims to
This Inclusion Concept is intended to be an overall strategy; its implementation takes on more concrete dimensions by way of a milestone plan. For the time being, the measures described there refer to the implementation period from 2021 to 2030.
You can watch the video with German and English subtitles on the YouTube channel of the University of Potsdam.