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Campus Now

Spring Verdure Issue (May. 2015)

Evolution of the University

This feature introduces new organizations and systems of our evolving university. In the fifth installment, we focus on the Disabled Student Services Office.

Disabled Student Services Office

Realizing a convivial society where all students can study in the same environment

Taiji Saito
Dean of Student Affairs
Professor, Faculty of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University

Disabilities are a type of diversity

Disabilities are a type of diversity. The true globalization espoused in Waseda Vision 150 can only be realized by encouraging the diversity of professionals in education, research and labor. This refers to the gathering of various individuals with differences such as nationality and gender, and also includes disabilities.

Waseda University has started providing support for disabled students from the late 1990s. However, at that time, most support activities were limited to individual response by schools and departments. In 2006, the Disabled Student Services Office was established as a university-wide organization. The office assembled an expert staff and developed a system for integrating consultation, request and support services for disabled students. This enabled Waseda to accumulate know-how for supporting disabilities such as hearing impairment, vision impairment and physical disabilities. In turn, this made it possible to provide more specialized and efficient support. Furthermore, since June 2014, the office has started support for students with developmental disorders. From 2015, the office is increasing the number of specialized staff.

Providing appropriate support through cooperation inside and outside the university

Universities are responsible for creating an environment where diverse people can coexist and study. Based on the mission of "enabling all students to learn in the same environment," our office provides support by cooperating with related institutions both on and off campus. Our office is responsible for a wide range of activities including consultation on learning support, proposal and assessment of support content, cultivation of support staff, monitoring of support conditions, request and adjustment with Waseda institutions, activities for increasing awareness and understanding toward disabilities, creation of faculty guides, and activities for the improvement of facilities and other equipment. Our staff periodically meets with disabled students starting from before they enter university, working to assess the learning environment and report requests of that student. Furthermore, as globalization continues, there will be an increase in disabled foreign students, and it is necessary to consider a support system for such students.

Studying diversity and expanding horizons as support volunteers

Currently, there are about 60 disabled students (about 30 students with physical disabilities and 30 with developmental disabilities) who use services provided by our office. About 270 students are registered as support volunteers. However, when considering factors such as campus location, level of expertise, academic year and free time, more volunteers are needed for efficient coordination. Our office is always accepting student volunteers, and asks that any interested students take the initiative to contact our office. Volunteers can immediately help with activities such as movement support and writing for disabled students. Furthermore, volunteers can start a note-taking and interpretation through PC after completing a single training course for support.

Student support volunteers are paid for their activities which contribute to the growth of education and research at our university. Providing compensation makes it possible for disabled students to use required services without any hesitation. Furthermore, it gives supporting students a sense of responsibility for their role in volunteering and education.

The support office also cooperates with operation of the course entitled "Understanding and Support Disabilities" offered at the Global Education Center. This course aims to increase familiarity with disabilities and deepen understanding. Disabled individuals participate in the course as guest speakers. By directly hearing the voice of disabled individuals, students obtain a deeper understanding toward disability and increase their perspective.

Forming an environment where all students can shine

A law promoting resolution of discrimination against people disabilities is scheduled to be enacted in Japan from April 2016. This law defines rational consideration to be provided to disabled students by universities, and obliges private universities to make an effort to provide such consideration. In response to such social trends, our university is currently working to formulate guidelines for supporting disabled students. The Disabled Student Services Office will continue to strive to realize an environment where all students can shine regardless of any disabilities which may exist.

Taiji Saito
Dean of Student Affairs
Professor, Faculty of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University

Taiji Saito graduated from the Waseda University School of Political Science and Economics. He completed the Master’s Program at the Waseda University Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences. In 1996, he was appointed as Professor at the Waseda University School of Political Science and Economics. From 1996 to 2002, he served as Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at the School of Political Science and Economics, and as Dean of Student affairs from 2010 to 2014. He assumed his current position in November 2014.

Staff at the Disabled Student Services Office

Department for Students with Physical Disabilities
Room #110, Building No. 3, Waseda Campus

From left: Yuko Okubo (manager), Saki Shimamura, Ayumi Wada, Ryuji Kagawa

Department for Students with Developmental Disabilities
1st Floor, Building No. 25 (Okuma Garden House), Waseda Campus

From left: Toshiro Okamoto, Keiji Kashinoki, Etsuko Ishikawa, Miyuki Izumi

Website of the Disabled Student Services Office

Remote PC interpretation support. This popular service enables disabled students to naturally attend events and classes together with friends.

Message from faculty
Understanding toward disabilities enriches student life

Professor Takuro Hatakeyama
Faculty of Human Sciences
Coordinator of the "Understanding and Support Disabilities" course offered at the Global Education Center

Do you consider disabilities as someone else's problem? Actually, I did myself when I was young. However, today I cannot read fine print without wearing glasses. Although this was caused by aging, it is actually one type of disability. The same is true for near-sighted young people who wear glasses or contact lenses.

When we see disabled people in the city, we tend to view them as unfortunate individuals who are always confronted with difficulty. This is not correct. Although it is true that disabled individuals have to deal with inconveniences, as long as they receive appropriate support, they can enjoy a student lifestyle just like yours and can pursue their future dreams.

Correctly understanding and empathizing with disabilities creates new value. I am sure that it will change and enrich your student lifestyle.

Message from student volunteer
Doing what I can to help others

Fumi Ozawa
4th-Year Student at School of Law

Once a friend of mine started volunteering as a support student, I learned that I could volunteer even if I lacked specialized skills. I have started volunteering myself since autumn of my first year. During free time between classes, I mainly assisted hearing-impaired students by taking notes and performing PC interpretation. This experience allowed me to attend classes outside of my own major, thus providing me with new knowledge and realizations. Indeed, instead of feeling like a volunteer, I felt like I was learning at the university. Also, I was inspired by the efforts of disabled students and other volunteers.

By volunteering, I learned that disabilities are a form of diversity, not a handicap. I also learned that I can help others simply by doing what I can. In the future, I hope to work closely with other people for the benefit of society.