According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 15% of the world population suffers some form of physical, psychic or sensory disability. That means more than 1 billion people around the globe.

One of the duties of the welfare state is making it possible for people with disabilities to access work, public services as well as, specific education and assistance programs. That is why public administrations, as well as many private and non-profit organizations, are making great efforts to break down the barriers that prevent these people from developing fully.

Universities play a very important role in this process. In the first place, by giving opportunity to citizens with some type of disability to access education in our centres and overcoming the physical barriers or any other problems that may arise in relation to their disability. To do this, it is necessary to adapt the access routes and have the necessary personnel and support material as well all the relevant information.

I have read several reports published last weekend on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. I am saddened that although we are well into the twenty-first century, many factors still prevent people with disabilities from enjoying a normal social and career life. I worry about not being able to develop and implement more and better systems that would make their life easier. But I’m amazed and excited to know that every day many professionals dedicate their time, resources and knowledge to reduce or eliminate the obstacles on their way.

However, I am convinced that we can be proud of the improvements that we enjoy and that all people with disabilities, no matter where they live or what problems they experience, can also participate in the advantages and possibilities that science, technology and knowledge contribute to make this world a better place.

Posted by Juan M. Corchado

Juan Manuel Corchado (15 May 1971, Salamanca, Spain) is Professor at the University of Salamanca. He has been Vice-Rector for Research from 2013 to 2017 and Director of the Science Park of the University of Salamanca. Elected as Dean of the Faculty of Science twice, he holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Salamanca and a PhD in Artificial Intelligence from the University of the West of Scotland. He leads the renowned BISITE (Bioinformatics, Intelligent Systems and Educational Technology) Research Group, created in 2000. Director of the IoT Digital Innovation Hub and President of the AIR Institute, J. M. Corchado is also Visiting Professor at the Osaka Institute of Technology since January 2015, Visiting Professor at the Universiti Malaysia Kelantan and Member of the Advisory Group on Online Terrorist Propaganda of the European Counter Terrorism Centre (EUROPOL). J. M. Corchado has been president of the IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Society, and academic coordinator of the University Institute for Research in Art and Animation Technology at the University of Salamanca, as well as researcher at the Universities of Paisley (UK), Vigo (Spain) and the Plymouth Marine Laboratory (UK). He currently combines all his activity with the direction of Master programmes in Security, Digital Animation, Mobile Telephony, Information Systems Management, Internet of Things, Social Media, 3D Design and Printing, Blockchain, Z System, Industry 4.0, Agile Project Management, and Smart Cities & Intelligent Buildings, at the University of Salamanca and his work as editor-in-chief of the journals ADCAIJ (Advances in Distributed Computing and Artificial Intelligence Journal), OJCST (Oriental Journal of Computer Science and Technology) or Electronics MDPI (Computer Science & Engineering section). J. M. Corchado mainly works on projects related to Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Blockchain, IoT, Fog Computing, Edge Computing, Smart Cities, Smart Grids and Sentiment Analysis. He has recently been included in the board of trustees of the AstraZeneca Foundation, along with other health professionals and researchers recognised for bringing scientific knowledge closer to society.

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