What’s on URA activities

Aiming to become a university that nurtures multiple skills required to provide support based on reasonable accommodation


Unit Name:
Support for Disabled Students in Higher Education
Unit representative:
Professor Kazunori Takeda, Faculty of Human Sciences

Unit members:
14 (6 faculty members, no postdoctoral fellows, none from other organizations)

Key words:
reasonable accommodation, inclusion, support for disabled students, universal campus



As proposed in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,*1 “reasonable accommodation” which takes into consideration the difficulties experienced by the disabled has been increasingly recognized as an obligation to be complied with in a variety of fields of international society. “Inclusive education”, which proposes that people with and without disabilities should not be separated in all educational stages, is also being adopted as a principle. Universities are no exceptions. The University of Tsukuba is the only university in Japan that has developed “science for the disabled” integrating education, medicine, physiology, and welfare related to disabled adults and children, as an academic discipline. Our research unit, which has brought together the intellects of the university, has developed a new model for supporting disabled students learning in higher education institutions.

Reasonable accommodation to address social obstacles experienced by disabled students

There is a wide variety of disability-related difficulties. The idea that everything in society, including systems, customs, and concepts, that may interfere with the daily and social lives of disabled people, in addition to factors related to visible disabilities, should be recognized as a social (environmental) problem has become mainstream in recent years. Japanese domestic laws in accordance with this concept are also being developed. “Reasonable accommodation” in universities refers to changes and modifications to be implemented by the schools, as their obligations and not as a well-intentioned effort, to respond to the needs of individual disabled students. When hearing- or visually-impaired students attend classes for which their right to information is not guaranteed, they cannot adequately understand lectures. Meanwhile, it is also necessary to maintain the quality of academic disciplines and research, which form the essence of universities. As a goal of support for disabled university students, we are involved in the development of learning environments to support motivated and competent students, so that they will not have to abandon learning because of their disabilities (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Examples of systems for barrier-free lectures installed in the University of Tsukuba

Figure 1: Examples of systems for barrier-free lectures installed in the University of Tsukuba

To create a universal campus

The research unit, principally consisting of full-time members of the University of Tsukuba Disabled Students Support Division, conducts interdisciplinary research on reasonable accommodation to support disabled students. Basic research subjects include: assessment items*2, methods for the effective use of barrier-free lecture systems (Figure 1), curriculums to train supporters, training of support volunteers, sophistication of supporting methods/technologies, and the health management of students with disabilities and in need of support. We also conduct joint research on the physiological assessment of stress in the disabled in collaboration with external teams, using biomarkers. We are challenged to determine the requirements for establishing universal campuses through these research activities, as well as developing models to support disabled students learning in higher education institutions.

*1: A treaty related to human rights established to protect the dignity and rights of all disabled people (with physical, intellectual, and mental disabilities). It was adopted at the 61st U.N. General Assembly (2006).
*2: It aims to understand the status of individuals with disabilities to discuss required support, predict their future behaviors, and examine the effects of support.

Social contributions and achievements
● Creation of barrier-free maps (Figure 2)
Figure 2 : Process of the creation of a barrier-free map

Figure 2 : Process of the creation of a barrier-free map

● Development of the coordinate assist system (CAS) to support hearing-impaired students (Figure 3)
Figure 3 : Coordinate assist system (CAS) to support hearing-impaired students

Figure 3 : Coordinate assist system (CAS) to support hearing-impaired students

(Interviewed on August 23, 2013)

Research Administration/Management Office at U Tsukuba TEL 029-853-4434