EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL!
The Association of Students with Disabilities (ASD) is non-governmental, non-partisan and non-profit organisation which advocates for the exercise and respect of human rights and the equalisation of opportunities for youth and students with disabilities by creating the conditions for inclusive formal and non-formal education and the application of social model approach to disability.
ASD is one of the first organisations in Serbia which gathers young persons with different types of disabilities, regardless of their medical diagnosis, but also young persons without disabilities through inclusive and cross-disability approach.
Following the vision ‘Equal opportunities for all’, the Association works on civil society building based on equal opportunities and equality of all citizens regardless of their gender, nonviolence, nondiscrimination, respect for human rights and diversity, social participation and responsibility.
The scope of activities
ASD realises its activities within several programme lines:
- Support services for students with disabilities;
- Empowering young persons with disabilities through non-formal education programmes;
- Inclusive culture and art;
- Antidiscrimination and human rights;
- Promotional and advocacy activities;
- Psychosocial support and empowering young persons with disabilities;
- Inclusive youth activism
- Activist centre
The activities of ASD are characterised by following principles: social model approach to disability as opposed to medical and charity model approaches to disability, antidiscrimination, the respect for diversity and human rights, civil society building, equal opportunities and equity, social participation and responsibility as well as inclusive and non-formal education.
Support services for students with disabilities
Within the Support Services programme ASD offers different forms of help for students with disabilites. Within this programmes students can get support through servicing throughout the process of scholarship applications, university enrollment procedure, application of affirmative support measures, advocacy for student support at higher education institutions. As occasional ways of student support, ASD organises the adaptation of literature into accesible formats, personal and academic assistance and transport services.
Empowering young persons with disabilities through non-formal education programmes
This programme is mainly implemented through T-groups, that is, interactive workshops within trainings designed from several different modules. Within this programme, the research on the status of young persons with disabilities in Serbian education system is also conducted, and members of ASD participate in the design process of practical policies for inclusive education as well as in the reform process of education system, conducted by The Ministry of Education. Besides, ASD contributes to the process of creation and implementation of inclusive methodologies within non-formal education programmes implemented by other organisations.
Antidiscrimination and human rights
The programme Antidiscrimination and Human Rights is comprised of the activities implemented in cooperation with partner organisations within the Coalition Against Discrimination and other partner organisations, which are youth or student organisations by nature. The benchmarks of this programme are continuous promotion of the principles of human rights and equality, research and monitoring of antidiscriminatory practices in Serbia and amendments to legislation aimed at designing a favourable legal framework for a life without discrimination and inclusive society building. The members of the Coalition Against Discrimination present publicly, at the common press conference, their annual reports on the status of minority groups whose interests they represent.
Psychosocial support and empowering young persons with disabilities
Through the Psychosocial Support and Empowering programme, young persons with disabilities have the opportunity to participate in different workshops and counseling. There are psychological counseling, life coaching and peer education implemented within this programme, and young persons with disabilities have the chance to work with other young people who are either their peers or share the same life experiences (have the same type of disability, come from a similar background etc).
Inclusive culture and art
The programme Inclusive Culture and Art – Promotion of Human Rights through Culture and Art. The framework for this programme is a long-term project delivered by the inclusive youth magazine for human rights, disability, society and culture LOOPING, established in 2006. Within this programme, the first notebook of inclusive comics has been published. Also, a significant segment of this programme is forum theatre as theatre techniques.
Inclusive youth activism
Within the programme Youth Activism, there are various activities enabling mobilisation of persons with or without disabilities interested in the work of ASD. The work of the ASD activist centre as well as the continuing realisation of the ‘INCLUSION-YES’ project are of the utmost importance for this programme.
Promotional and advocacy activities
The programme Promotional and Advocacy Activities is for the most part the realisation of PR function of the ASD operations. Within this programme, the organisation’s communication channels operate (Internet websites, Facebook pages, Facebook groups, the Youtube channel and newsletters), public promotional activities, conferences and forum groups are organized and members of ASD participate in public activities organised by other social subjects
The success of the implemented programmes has been verified by the fact that relevant actors, governmental institutions, organisations and donors recognise the Association of Students with Disabilities as a significant partner in the process of policy making as well as law and programme design, in the areas that the Association is engaged in. The ASD representatives were involved in the work on the Anti-Discrimination Law, Students’ Union Act, the Law on the Foundations of the Education System, the design of the National Youth Strategy (within the workgroup for education); the results of several pieces of research conducted by ASD, on the status of young persons with disabilities, were used in making of the NSM text (ASD publication: Disability is a matter of human rights, 2006; The status of young persons with disabilities in secondary education, 2007; Promotion of inclusive higher education in Southeast Europe, 2006; cited on page 14 of the National Youth Strategy). The Association sees as the greatest achievement the fact that numerous young persons with disabilities across Serbia have been motivated through programmes and projects of the ASD to continue with their education, enroll in university programmes or establish their own organisations.