Talking about disability

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.

Juan Manuel Corchado

Full Professor in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, Department of Computer Science and Automation, University of Salamanca, Spain.


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