New study by education researchers: A look at the reality of students with disabilities inside Birzeit University

The study examines how students with disabilities perceive their university life, recommends better facilities on campuses.

Researchers at Birzeit University’s Faculty of Education showed in a new study that students with disabilities are able to overcome the social and academic barriers the society places in their path when they enroll at Palestinian universities.

The team of researchers, comprising Dr. Refa’ Al-Ramahi, dean of the Faculty of Education, and Drs. Ahmad Fteiha and Ola Khalil, both assistant professors of curriculum and instruction, followed a qualitative approach, assuming that everyone’s perceptions can be related to the context and culture in which they live. They interviewed 33 students with disabilities enrolled at Birzeit University and aged between 18 to 23.

One of the main questions that the study, entitled “Disabled Students at the Palestinian Universities: Birzeit University as a Model,” tries to answer is “How students with disabilities view their academic, social, personal and spatial life at Birzeit University.” The authors examined the students' self-perception about themselves, showing that they have a strong belief that their everyday life is the same as that of others and that they have a positive perception about themselves. The second question, “How do students with disabilities face the difficulties they may suffer at Birzeit University,” showed the challenges the students might confront due to the lack of necessary facilities and equipment that facilitate their enrollment into certain programs.

Despite the distinct difficulties that they face, students with disabilities have the determination and desire to achieve their ambitions and overcome whichever obstacles they might encounter, as the researchers conclude. Against this background, the researchers recommend increasing financial and learning support to these students and raising awareness of their potential and capabilities.