The Ibn Tofaïl University in Kénitra organized, on February 24 and 25, 2021, the first international conference on students with disabilities under the theme "The University, Society and Enterprise united for inclusion and integration of students with disabilities ”. This international meeting was organized as part of the PACES project (Progression of Accessibility Centers in higher Education for Students with disabilities in North Africa). Co-funded by the European Commission as part of the Erasmus program for capacity building in higher education, this conference, the first of its kind, focused on strengthening the knowledge of all stakeholders concerned by the inclusion of students with disabilities and the rights of people with disabilities, awareness of accessibility centers in higher education institutions, technologies to assist the network of employers and integration opportunities, as well as the need to train students with disabilities and prepare them for employability and entrepreneurship. In a statement to the press, Prof. Azzedine El Midaoui, president of Ibn Tofaïl University, stressed that this “first international conference, will not be limited only to conclusions.
In view of his great experience in the field of disability, Dr. Taoufik Lahlou, president of the Al Karama Association of the Disabled of Gharb, made a point of welcoming the Ibn Tofaïl University and other partners in a statement to the “Morning” the organization of this international conference, considering it rich and informative because of the quality of the national and international speakers. Describing Ibn Tofaïl University as a pioneer in various fields related to economic and social development, Dr Lahlou expressed his joy to see that it deals with the issue of people with disabilities who constitute, he reveals, nearly 10 % of the Moroccan population. Note that this international conference, which was held in hybrid (face-to-face and online), was illustrated by the presentation of presentations by eminent experts from Europe, Morocco and Egypt in charge of disability issues and good practices, including Pr Jacqueline Cawston, professor at the University of Coventry in the United Kingdom United and coordinator of the PACES project. It was also an opportunity for the organization of workshops and the presentation of success stories from students with disabilities.
It should be noted that the overall objective of the Erasmus-PACES project is to set up a program of initiatives in Moroccan and Egyptian universities in order to support the modernization of higher education, by developing accessibility centers (static, mobile, and virtual). This is to allow students with disabilities to access technical assistance and support services. Thanks to these centers and to the employers' network, indicates a press release from Ibn Tofaïl University, this category of students will be able to acquire employability skills, in order to progress towards obtaining employment.
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This Conference edition is an output from the PACES Project which was built upon the SWING project. The first conference was held on November 2015 at AASTMT Alexandria Main Campus under the title of “the International Conference for Sustainable Ways on Integration of Persons with Disabilities in the Labor Market using Assistive TechnoloGies: (IC-SWING). The first conference was organized by AASTMT in partnership with the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and in cooperation with the SWING project that was funded by the EU and the British Consulate-General.
The 2nd International Conference for Persons with disabilities (PwD) is organized by the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport (AASTMT), under the patronage of the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, the Egyptian Ministry of Social Solidarity, Egyptian Minister of Youth and Sports, and within the framework of the PACES Project: Progression of Accessibility Centres in higher Education for Students with disabilities in North Africa, which is co-funded by the European Commission under the Erasmus+ Programme for Capacity Building in Higher Education (CBHE).
This hybrid edition of the conference focused on:
1.Knowledge building and launching awareness campaigns for all the stakeholders concerned with the inclusion of students with disabilities (SwD) and the rights of persons with disabilities (PwD).
2.Raising awareness about the Accessibility Centres (AC) in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), Assistive Technologies (AT) and the Employers’ Network.
3.The necessity of training for employment and entrepreneurship for SwD.
Conference website URL: www.ic-paces.org