Commemorating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), Universitas Kristen Indonesia (Christian University of Indonesia) – Celebratory Event  to Promote Access to Higher Education and Career Prospects

In  collaboration with Coventry University, United Kingdom, Universitas Kristen Indonesia (Christian University of Indonesia) hosted  a celebratory event  to promote access of people with disabilities to Higher Education and Career Prospects in Indonesia in the Seminar Room, Universitas Kristen Indonesia Cawang Campus.  This event was part the ALIGN (Access and Inclusion for Students with Disabilities in Higher Education) project, funded by the Academy of Medical Sciences (GCRF Networking Grant), which involves partner universities from the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia. As the place to train future workforce, higher education institution (HEI) should be inclusive, as a form of support for PwDs to attain knowledge and skills they need for their future. The commemoration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities aims to increase understanding of disability issues and raise support for the realization of dignity, rights and welfare for persons with disabilities and to increase national awareness of disability access to higher education and the independence of persons with disabilities to career opportunities.

A musical performance by Elsafan Entertainment, a band of  people with disabilities, livened up the event with their musical and singing talents and expressed their appreciation to UKI for the event and they voiced their hope that they will be given equal opportunity to pursue education and work because they have proven that they can.

Commissioner of the National Commission of People with Disabilities, Mr. Kikin Tarigan, in his keynote speech, stated, “An inclusive higher education institution ensures that each student attends, participates and even excel in his/her study, without any discrimination. Higher education institutions are training centres for for the people, including those with disabilities, for their personal development, without discrimination. The government  must guarantee that access to higher education be provided to PwDs. With the qualifications they earn, they are able to apply in decent work sectors to support their life, thus, their standard  and quality of life and welfare are guaranteed. To UKI, Mr. Tarigan expresses his expectation to do research on issues concerning people with disabilities.

Aside from Commissioner Tarigan, this event’s other speakers includes Prof. Dianne Clouder, Chair of ALIGN Project, University of Coventry, UK; Dr.rer.pol. Ied Veda Sitepu, S.S., M.A., ALIGN’s Indonesian team leader; and Ms Evi Deliviana, director of Golden Kids School, UKI’s lab school for the special needs children.

Dr Ied speaking at the event

UKI’s Faculty of Engineering held an exhibition of its new innovations for this occasion. It just designed a vehicle for persons with impairments disabilities, called “Emastron-01′, Tricycle Electric Vehicle, designed to move forward and backwards.. This prototype can travel 15 km/hour, is environmentally friendly, and it requires a power of 500 watt with 36 voltage. Another prototype of electronic staff can detect water or unsafe roads for the blind. This stick is able to read road conditions  of 2 to 150 cm to the front, 2 to 75 cm to the left and right. This tool  can also detect objects near it and is designed with a water sensor on the tip of the stick.

The Vice Rector for Academics and Innovations of UKI, Dr. Hulman Panjaitan formally opened this event and the 190 persons in attendance include students and parents of the Golden Kids School, Guidance and Counseling teachers from private and state high schools in Jakarta, UKI students and lecturers, UKI’s leadership, and many others.  

The poster illustrating the event can be found here:


Champion Event at Phu Xuan University

Workshop Product

Colleagues at the Phu Xuan University, Viet Nam, delivered a Public Communication Skills on Social Media for Disabilities Workshop on September 24 2022, together with the Hope Center for Disabilities.

The workshop aimed to work with disabled students in the field of crafts, sewing, industry and technology, to introduce their products and ideas using social media. The workshop included 43 participants and received excellent feedback. A short video captured some testimonials which can be found here:

Video testimonials

Celebration Event

The Philippine Normal University, in collaboration with Coventry University of the United Kingdom, hosted “Celebrating Inclusivity in the Workplace” at the ballroom of Hotel Lucky Chinatown in Binondo, Manila on July 23, 2022.

The hybrid event, which was translated by the Philippine Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. in both settings, was one of the activities of Project ASEAN Interdisciplinary Network on the Promotion of Access and Inclusion of Disabled Students in Higher Education (ALIGN).

An interdisciplinary mix of partner universities from the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Viet Nam comprise the members of Project ALIGN. The local celebratory event was attended by a total of 72 on site participants, 848 Zoom online participants, and 3,800 FB live viewers as of this writing. You can find the full report here.

Celebratory Event

Webinar for Access and inclusion for students with disabilities higher education network – in selected countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

On 4th May 2021, project partners came together online to deliver a webinar on the project and future directions to 65 delegates across the UK, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. The webinar discussed the results from appreciative inquiry events across the four country perspectives, and what steps need to be taken in the future to ensure equity for disabled students in higher education.

Webinar delivered on 4 May 2021
Prof Clouder introducing the context of the project.

The importance of technology, facilities, teaching and learning support, financial support, training for staff, and awareness raising were all identified as important factors from the different country perspectives gathered from students and staff at each University. Elements of good practice were also highlighted, including peer support and buddying systems.

Delegates engaged in the question and answer session to discuss the greatest barriers to be faced, and the project team are currently scoping new opportunities for funded research to scale up the major research questions that were identified, including how policy is implemented into practice in the most effective and impactful ways.

Join us for our free webinar event! Webinar for Access and inclusion for students with disabilities higher education network – in selected countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

4th May 2021 

·         16:00 – 18:30 hours (Philippine Standard Time) 

·         09:00 – 11:30 hours (British Summer Time)

This online session will share findings from a networking project that aims to investigate the factors that influence access and inclusion for disabled students in higher education (HE) in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

An estimated 650 million people in the Asia-Pacific region live with a disability. The 2010 Census of Population and Housing in the Philippines alone, found 1.57% of people had a disability, with the highest prevalence in the 5-19-year old category – at which age education suffers. In 2018, UNESCO stated that the gap between representation and achievement of disabled and non-disabled people is greatest in the ASEAN countries.

The network partners used a qualitative research approach, combining desk-based research and online focus groups (due to the COVID-19 pandemic), to investigate laws, policies and practices impacting on the ability of students with disabilities to access and succeed in their institutions. This session will share data and findings based on in-country perspectives and will raise the key challenges and opportunities to improving access and inclusion for students with disabilities in Higher Education Institutions the ASEAN region.

In addition, the ALIGN network is looking to extend its membership to other partner higher education institutions in the ASEAN countries to join the conversation, and there will be a question-and-answer session at the end of the webinar.

Who is this event for?

This event will be of interest to educators, policy makers, senior University leaders, support staff, non-government organisations, agencies, charitable organisations, students and parents or carers in the ASEAN region.


Institutional case studies from the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam

Each University partner in the network has created a case study to showcase their institution, what support is available to students with disabilities (SWD), and what the current challenges are. These can be found in our case study report.

The consolidated challenges for the region include:

  • Disclosure of disability: There is a general reliance on students disclosing disabilities at enrolment stage, or dependence on a diagnosis pre higher education entry.
  • Screening tools: Tools described are more commonly used for physical disability. This could be a problem for some students who find it challenging to self-declare, or do not realise that they have a condition upon entering a programme of study,
  • Awareness and training: Lack of general awareness on the challenges and opportunities for students with disabilities (SWD), particularly in unseen disabilities such as neurodiverse conditions. There is an opportunity for capacity building amongst teachers, support staff, parents and students in the ASEAN region.
  • Funding: Lack of specific funding programmes and scholarships to fund support for SWD (for example assistive technologies).
  • Assessment strategies: There is a variation of different assessment strategies available to SWD. Most commonly, extra time is given for assessment, though other assessment adaptations are not evident.
  • Support services: Although some support services exist, and there are good models in place (i.e. buddy systems), there is a reliance on peers to take notes for SWD, or to help them physically move between classes.
  • Exclusion on programmes: Some SWD are excluded from entering certain programmes of study. The rationale for this is unclear and needs further investigation.
  • Definition: The definition of disability should be considered jointly, with a charter or a pledge on how institutions are moving towards improvements and developments.
  • Approaches: There is the potential for capacity building to reduce some of the individual approaches to supporting SWD to make them more consistent and systemic.
Image of Case Study Report

International Day for People with Disabilities

On Thursday 3rd December 2020, it is international day for people with disabilities. As a network, we continue to champion accessible education for all, promote dignity in the classroom and end stereotypes and stigmas.

Today, we met with our partners to re-start our project which has been affected by the world-wide pandemic, and to agree our next steps. We discussed finalising case studies, planning for writing articles together and sharing ideas for future research. We continue with our aim of raising awareness for inclusive education in the ASEAN region and hope to bring together a large number of university staff, policymakers, schools, parents, carers and students to discuss regional and national issues, with a view to promoting further action.


Moving forwards with new ideas

It was fantastic to see our partners again on 28th July 2020 as we came together for a project meeting. Campuses are all still either closed or restricted and we are currently sharing best practice on how data can be collected using alternative means.

Colleagues in Indonesia had managed to run an Appreciate Inquiry event online. Whilst this was challenging in some respects, it also generated some interesting debate and findings around inclusive education and inclusive campuses.

Dr. Ied Veda Sitepu (Acting Vice President for Student Affairs, Law and Co-operation), Dr. Lisa Gracia Kailola (Faculty of Education), and Mr. Dikky Antonius (College of Engineering), shared the outcomes of the event and presented a way in which others may be able to collect their data where events at physical locations may still be unsafe.

This was a great opportunity for how barriers related to face to face research, events and meetings could be overcome, and provided food for thought for us all.

Dr. Ied is currently putting together a report on the findings which will feed into the final project report and webinar.

COVID19 and the impact on ALIGN

In the UK, we have just heard that we are going into lockdown because of the COVID19 pandemic, as are our partners across the globe.

Our attentions on the project have turned to how we are going to keep momentum. Appreciate Inquiry events had been planned on campus, and have either had to be cancelled or postponed. All partners were also all due to come together for a second meeting in Viet Nam, which is now looking unlikely.

Having discussed the issues with our co-leads at Philippine Normal University, we have agreed that some activities can continue, whilst others will be impacted. As a result, we have put in a formal request to the funder for a no cost extension, and are currently busy updating our project schedules.

Creating ALIGN – The first meeting

On Friday 6th December 2019, Lynn Clouder and Marie Sams started the long journey to Manila in the Philippines to meet colleagues from the network for the first time.

The programme had been scheduled, cases packed, accommodation booked and we were excited to be starting the project alongside our co-investigator Prof. Zeny Reyes at Philippine Normal University, who were hosting the first meeting at their University building.

On the first day of our three day meeting, introductions were made and we participated in ice breakers in order to find out a bit more about each other, what our interests were and what we hoped to get out of the network. We also discussed potential names for the network (later decided on as ALIGN: Access and inclusion for students with disabilities in higher education network).

During the course of the day, each University partner shared some of their current institutional practice in the area of inclusive education, and some of the challenges faced by disabled students, their carers, families and teachers.

On day 2, partners were introduced to the concept of Appreciate Inquiry, which is a tool often used to create change. ‘AI was developed to reveal, often overlooked, positive aspects of experience; to generate new theory and to anticipate a new reality‘ (see Clouder & King 2015).

Lynn and Marie delivered a live demonstration of Appreciate Inquiry, so that each institution may go back to their respective departments to run the event in order to collect data on positive thought and perceptions on the possibilities of inclusive education for disabled students. The importance of including students in these conversations was always at the centre of every discussion, and each partner left with a plan for how they would approach this activity and feedback to the wider group.

On the final day of the visit, each partner fed back their plans of what their ambitions were for their own Universities, considering who they would invite to the event. To get a holistic view of what possible, it was agreed that the key stakeholders would include:

  • Senior managers
  • Teachers/educators
  • Students
  • Professional staff (i.e. Disabilities, course administrators etc).
  • Parents and/or carers

In addition to the data that everyone was planning to collect, it was agreed that each institution would develop a ‘case study’ view of what was already happening in their institutions so that best practice can be shared and collective gaps identified.

Each partner also agreed to undertake some desk based research on disciplinary differences. A range of disciplines were identified and research would focus on the learning outcome of those courses, to look at how inclusive they would be to students with disabilities and whether any adaptations could be made.

The event finished with a finalised action plan and a round of appreciation for each of the partners involved. There was certainly a lot packed into the three days, and whilst everyone was in need of a well earned break, there was also a sense of enthusiasm and eagerness to start collecting data through desk research and AI events!