The overall aim of the PACES project is to progress and set up a programme of initiatives in universities in Egypt and Morocco to support the modernisation of higher education by developing Accessibility Centres (static, mobile and virtual) that will enable students with disabilities (SwD) to access assistive technology and support services such as counselling and peer support. Through these centres SwD and the Employer/HEI network SwD will be able to gain employability and transition skills in order to move forward into employment.
The specific objectives are carefully constructed to build upon the outputs of the Tempus SWING project and to incorporate lessons learned and good practice knowledge transferred from several Erasmus+ projects (MUSE, SINCHE and Trans2Work). They are also designed to add innovation in the form of virtual and pop-up/mobile Accessibility Centres to increase the reach and impact to more areas in North Africa. PACES will improve the study and employability chances of SwD by accomplishing the objectives though concrete tangible outputs.
There are many issues for students and graduates with disabilities in North Africa. People with disabilities remain a marginalised and largely overlooked part of Egyptian and Moroccan society. Many students from poor socioeconomic backgrounds face significant barriers to accessing higher education. Disability remains culturally stigmatised and cultural norms often result in families hiding their disabled members and caring for them at home, or struggling on under difficult circumstances. All project partners have learned many lessons and aim through this new project to increase the scale of access to HE and employment opportunities for students with disabilities throughout Egypt and Morocco.