M.D. De-Juan-Vigaray1, E. Gonzalez-Gascón2, J. López-García1, V. Poveda3, C. Cachero1, M.L. Vallés-Amores1, J. Cuevas-Casaña4, A. Serrano1, J. Carmona1, B. Subiza1, J. Peris1, V. Hernández5, C. Martínez-Mora1

1University of Alicante (SPAIN)
2University Miguel Hernández de Elche (Alicante) (SPAIN)
3Colegio Aitana (Alicante) (SPAIN)
4University of Valencia (SPAIN)
5IES Gabriel Miró Orihuela (Alicante) (SPAIN)
Each and every one of us is different and this diversity is what makes life so interesting. However, the problems start when diversity becomes inequality. A fair society needs to take diversity into consideration in all spheres of life, especially in education. The majority of universities in Spain provide special services for students with disabilities, offering counselling and support to the university community, in order to break down barriers and help these students to become fully integrated and make the most of their time at university. As well as adapting curricula and providing physical resources to ensure total integration, it is also necessary to nurture interpersonal relationships between all members of the university community. This study shows a 360º view of attitudes towards diversity. To achieve this, both students with disabilities and their classmates have been asked for their points of view. But the students are only one part of the equation. With the aim of obtaining a broader view of the current situation, lecturers were also interviewed. Within this group, both instructors who have taught students with disabilities and those who are themselves disabled took part in the research.

Two research methods were used: quantitative and qualitative. For the quantitative research, a survey validated by the corresponding literature was used, which measures the students' and teachers' perception of disability. The scale consists of 4 dimensions: attitude towards inclusion; the values of the individuals surveyed; the perceived reaction towards disabilities, and intention. Furthermore, the survey included a set of questions which aimed to find out how often those interviewed carry out certain activities to the benefit of people with disabilities. The qualitative part consists of several interviews involving students and lecturers, looking into different aspects of their disability and relationship with the academic world.

Conclusions were drawn from the results leading in two directions: the university's commitment towards this group of people, in addition to greater visibility and a positive perception where fellow students are concerned. However, the need for more coordination between university support services and other institutions or organisations related to people with disabilities was also detected. For example, more interpreters of sign language in the classroom for students with hearing difficulties, as well as audiovisual materials, such as films and documentaries, with subtitles. It was also proposed that language test evaluations, such as that for level B1, should be adapted for people with hearing difficulties. This test is compulsory for students wishing to obtain a university degree.

Nonetheless, in the Spanish education system, students with hearing difficulties are exempt from learning languages during compulsory education. Finally, specific needs expressed by disabled students must also be taken into account.