‘The university values and supports the diversity of all university members with their different abilities, talents and competencies. It dismantles barriers and is committed to the active and equal participation of all university members.’
The ‘Diversity and Accessibility Action Plan for Bielefeld University’ is based on this maxim. The action plan was initiated as a sub-project of the Diversity Audit ‘Shaping Diversity’ (2018-2020) and serves primarily to develop and implement a diversity strategy tailored to Bielefeld University.
Essentially, an action plan sets out within a strategic framework the steps needed to achieve an objective, in this case an accessible and inclusive University. To this end, it identifies key action areas, analyses the current situation, determines needs, sets objectives and develops and puts in place measures to achieve those objectives. As a learning organization, Bielefeld University sees the action plan as a continual process, in which its members can actively participate in its development.
It comprises the following eight fields of action:
Field of action 1: Structure and network
Field of action 2: Sensitization
Field of action 3: Staff
Field of action 4: Digitization
Field of action 5: Teaching
Field of action 6: Studies and study conditions
Field of action 7: Teaching
Field of action 8: Campus life
Following the University's Diversity Mission Statement (PDF),d ifferent categories of diversity serve as a heuristic for defining target groups and identifying specific needs. Social and cultural diversity categories are of particular importance, such as race/ethnicity, national identity, religion, worldview, disability (with regard to all chronic mental or physical impairments, irrespective of any official recognised (severe) disability status, gender, sexual orientation (with regard to gender identity and physical or chromosome variants of gender development), age, and parenthood/family.
With a duration of seven years in total (01/2021-12/2027), the action plan is divided into several project phases, each focusing on one type of diversity and its intersectional links.
The first project phase of the action plan focuses on the difference category of disability and so serves to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In addition to promoting and supporting people with disabilities, this project phase focuses on dismantling barriers faced by disabled people which include negative attitudes and physical barriers. The action plan is aligned with the conclusions of the UN CRPD, that ‘disability arises from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others’2 The target group therefore includes both people with and without disabilities at the university.
Up until now, goals for the first four fields of action have been defined, an analysis of the current situation has been carried out, and measures developed and implemented.
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1 Vgl. Leitbild Diversität (https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/themen/diversitaet/diversity-policy/Diversity-policy-(002).pdf [19.11.2020]).