University of Tsukuba has a long history and accumulated experiences in regards to the education and research of disability study, as well as admitting many students with different types of disabilities. 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 constant effort to correspond to the needs of students with different type of disabilities lead to the launch of new form of support system with a small study circle for sign languages for students with hearing impairment. This step was also followed by creating a room equipped with computers to transcribe reading materials to Braille for students with visual impairments. This new support system aim to provide those students with the essential information they may need to fulfill their academic requirements.
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 (Office for Students with Disabilities) in 2007 could be regarded as official step to legalize the support system at the University of Tsukuba. Moreover, in 2015, OSD was integrated with office of diversity and office of career support to Diversity Accessibility Career center, and thus a new organization known as Accessibility Division for Students with Disabilities was founded. The progress and the expansion of the support system for student with disabilities indicating that the necessity of support for students with disabilities was officially recognized at the University of Tsukuba. The support for students with disabilities in Japan has recently received notable attention among community member and practitioner academic researchers after the enforcement of the new law in 2016 for eliminating the discrimination against people with disabilities. Accessibility Division at the University of Tsukuba accompanying its accumulating experiences on support provision for student with disabilities, is systematically carrying an ongoing researches aiming to provide a learning support based on the concrete evidence that resulted from the extensive experiences of supporting various type of 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 Accessibility Division for Students with Disabilities 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. This status has made the University of Tsukuba the leading institution in Japan in regard to support system provision for student with disabilities. I would like to emphasize that Accessibility Division for Students with Disabilities will continue the effort by conducting systematic researches in order to offer more efficient support for student with disabilities who are powerfully striving to fulfil their academic requirements.
Accessibility Division for Students with Disabilities, Director,