Learning disabilities affect about 5-7% of the population worldwide. 48% of those with learning disabilities cannot complete their university education and are excluded from work and likely to be unemployed [Fletcher-Janzen & Reynolds, 2009]. Around 45 million EU citizens of working age have a disability and 15 million children have special educational needs [Europa.eu, IP/12/761]. People with disabilities in the Arab regions also suffer from discrimination and marginalization. Currently services to aid to people with disabilities in education are generally not systematic and poorly funded, there is a lack of training and guidance that could make such interventions more effective. Disabled people make up 5.12% of Morocco's population, according to a 2004 government survey. Additionally, just 32% of handicapped children between the ages of 4 and 15 go to school [Disabled Moroccans struggle for integration, Sarah Τouahri, 2008]. Regarding Egypt, according to the World Health Organization, people with disabilities represent approximately 10% of the Egyptian population, or about 8.5 million persons. About 34% of those are children and should ave access to education [Central Agency for Public Mobilization & Statistics (Egypt) - 2005].
There is an urgent need for the development of sustainable strategies to ensure disabled students’ equal access to learning environments. The proposed programme aims to cover this need, by forwarding best practices and technology concerning better accessibility of education in two countries of the ENPI-South region (Egypt (EG) and Morocco (MA)). In this framework, a wide range of assistive technology (AT) makes it possible for an individual with special needs to operate a computer and telecommunication equipment. Alternative keyboards, text-to-speech software, screen magnification, word-prediction software, grammar and spelling checkers, and other AT have significant role in giving people with disabilities access to IT that will enhance their academic and career opportunities.
The SWING project will address the major need to have available assistive technology and use of accessible IT for disabled higher education students in all participating countries and mainly in Egypt and Morocco. Particularly, the project’s specific objectives are: to enhance the EU countries’ e-accessibility policies (part of the European Disability Strategy and of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) in order to contribute to the achievement of greater levels of Web accessibility across the Partner Countries’ Universities.
The project was launched in December 2013 and it is expected to finish by the end of November 2015.