Zayed University celebrates learning diversity

22 Mar 2021

The Department of Student Accessibility Services (SAS) at Zayed University (ZU) has recently organized an online event under the theme of ‘Celebrate Learning Diversity’. The event focuses on raising awareness on the uniqueness of each individual’s learning capacity - regardless of their differences.

Learning difficulties are neurological disorders that alter the brain function which causes difficulties for the individual to perform certain tasks such as reading, writing, and or accomplish jobs that require higher thinking skills such as planning and organization.

It is important to realize that learning difficulties can affect an individual’s life beyond academics and can impact relationships with family, friends and in the workplace. Common learning difficulties include Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia, and Dysgraphia. Almost 20% of individuals with learning difficulties suffer from Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Dr. Khalid M. Al Khazraji, Vice-President of Zayed University, said: “Zayed University, is very proud to have the Student Accessibility Services as a leader in the higher education sector in the MENA Region, providing support for Students of Determination with a wide number of Learning Difficulties. SAS has been incorporating assistive technology at the heart of their work with students, empowering them with methods and tools that are not only important for their academic journey but for their future lives in the labour market.”

“A UAEU study disclosed that around 18% of their total student’s population have some kind of learning difficulty. The UAE has taken great strides towards the inclusion of students of determination within mainstream educational settings. Many people with disabilities continue their education, many of whom have graduated from higher education and some received their PhDs. ZU encompasses the principles of diversity, personalization, equity, respect, acceptance and enrichment. When we improve the quality of inclusion within our educational institutions, we improve education for all,” he added.

Fatma Al Qassimi, Director, Student Accessibility Services Department, said: “Having a Learning Difficulty does not mean that a student is less intelligent than their peers, it just means that they learn differently! And accordingly, this year’s slogan, “Celebrate Learning Diversity” is fitting as each individual is unique.”

Furthermore, she added: “Currently, we are supporting a total of 187 students with Learning Difficulties, while the expected figure for comparable universities worldwide is 11 to 12 percent of the general student population Currently, there are approximately 1000 students at Zayed University who are not identified as having any kind of learning difficulty who require interventions and support, in order to achieve better academic performance.”

The Learning Difficulties online event was successfully organized and provided a variety of informative and engaging activities, as well as highlighted faculty and students experiences and assistive technologies, which widened knowledge around learning difficulties. The initiative aims to improve serving students with learning difficulties in line with the directions of the UAE Government to ensure equal access towards education and it aims to share experience with the wider UAE community and the region.