University of Tsukuba has a long history and accumulated experiences in regards to education and research of disability study, as well as admitting many students with different types of disabilities. In the 1970s, the academic tutor system for students with disabilities was established. This system was created by emulating the Foreign Student Tutor System in order to accommodate the needs, diversification and the increasing number of students with disabilities. The first step of building the support system at the University of Tsukuba started with a small study circle for sign languages for students with hearing impairment. It aimed to provide those students with the essential information they needed, including a room equipped with computers to transcribe reading materials to Braille for students with visual impairments.
In the year 2001 we witnessed the formation of the Support of Students with Disabilities Committee as well as the commencement of training lectures on support techniques targeting students interested in becoming tutors for students with disabilities. This led to the founding of a concrete Tutoring system. The foundation of OSD in 2007 could be considered a tangible step of rapid progress in the direction of constructing a functioning support system to accommodate the needs of students with disabilities.
The features of the support system at University of Tsukuba that should be mentioned are that the personnel offering support for students with disabilities are students (Peer Tutors) who had received an intensive training course in which they gained a high level of skills and techniques that qualify them to be efficient supporters. Most of Peer Tutors take the “Symbiosis-Campus: How to Support Students with Disabilities” which is an introductory class conducted by specialist faculties of OSD so that they can gain the basic knowledge on support techniques. Afterwards students take the intensive technique course pertaining to the specific disability type they want to offer support to and then students can register as a Peer Tutor. The support system had been initiated under the supervision of the specialist faculties, so the support system at University of Tsukuba is an efficient system that with all confidence we can be proud of. The number of participating students is now exceeding 200 students, including students with disabilities, and they are contributing in improving the quality of support provision.
A partnership starting from 2006 with the Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO), within University of Tsukuba, has served as a basis for implementing the expansion of the support network for students with disabilities and receiving consultation on support provision for students with disabilities from other institutions, as well as collaborating with training faculties and staffs. I would like to emphasize that OSD is targeting the realization of Symbiosis-Campus and all faculties and staffs are willing to collaborate to accomplish this goal.
Office for Students with Disabilities, Director,