CUSTOMIZED ENVIRONMENTAL ACCESSIBILITY FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITY AT POLITECNICO DI MILANO
At Politecnico di Milano, advanced ICT solutions used by the MultiChancePoliTeam (MCPT) experts allow to customize and support the educational pathways of students with disabilities who are going to become Engineers, Architects or Designers. The paper presents the model adopted by MCPT, describing how environmental accessibility can be guaranteed and improved if students’ profiles are provided. The model is based on four elements.
1. Profiling students, and interaction between them and MCPT
Student profiles are defined using the ICF* model (a customized version of the WHO ICF). MCPT - by means of the progressive monitoring task, combined with the profiling activity involving 260 students with Disability - collects special needs and feedback about existing environmental accessibility solutions, and manages scheduling, timing, logistics, exams, and technological solutions, adapting them to the needs of each individual class.
PoliMAPS is the software tool designed by ASI (the ICT management office) and ATE (the building management office) that allows the management of building information and includes a specific layer relied to accessibility; such a layer is used to verify, analyze, and improve the pathways of environment accessibility, in the short, medium and long terms.
Checking the accessibility level of physical places, according to individual characteristics, difficulties or disabilities (according to the ICF* approach) is one of the most interesting contributions of the model.
Multimodal information (maps, texts, and pictures) was integrated, to allow students and service officers to evaluate accessibility in a direct and customized way.
3. Interaction between MCPT and ATE
The described model allows also a specific interaction with ATE, which is responsible for removing access barriers and for raising the quality of accessibility (which often depends on the total reconstruction of some ancient buildings and on the quality of new constructions).
In particular MCPT, collecting students’ needs and feedback, provides a priority list to ATE, used to schedule the accessibility-related building adaptation. Such effort initially involved classrooms, laboratories, and student service accessibility. Then, the accessibility of offices and services used by researchers and employees was considered. Finally, different specific monitoring campaigns were made about usage of electronic keys for toilets, ICT rooms, and internal/external connective pathways.
The MCPT model, focused on enriched accessible pathways as checking tools, shows how useful the concept of “pathway” could be to conceive new accessible spaces for high education. For that reason new guidelines, written to enhance accessibility in new buildings, rely on such concept.
4. Innovative and personalized solutions
MCPT designs, proposes, adopts, and verifies reasonable adaptations to provide full accessibility to everyone, leveraging logistic services, tutoring services, and innovative ICT solutions - smartphones, tablets, PCs, etc. - made available to students.
The MCPT model has strong links with Politecnico ICT research teams implementing solutions for disabilities - like the AT Group - and political strategy makers at national and international levels (G3ict, EU projects, UN, UNESCO) in order to offer to students the best approaches and tools, and to give real contemporary feedback to the involved research groups.