Amid a jump in university students needing accessible learning aids, Italy’s publishers have collaborated in a special conference. In a sobering assessment, it was reported (June 15th) that Italy’s university student population has seen a sharp growth in specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia and more general disabilities that can affect learning, such as visual impairments and full blindness.
Today the number of Italy’s college-level students struggling with such issues has surpassed 40,000, and the Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE) notes that this rise in accessibility issues is coupled with a decline in enrollments–in the academic year 2019-2020, 36,800, based on data from the ANVUR (National Agency for the Evaluation of the University System and Research).
In practice today, the AIE reports, 2 percent of university students have a disability or specific learning disability—twice the percentage of 10 years ago. In responding to the situation, 76 percent of universities report that on request they provide such students with teaching materials in an accessible format; 71 percent say they offer tutoring activities; and 55 percent report offering lessons with sign language.
The Italian publishing community, concerned about the direction this situation has gone—and of course about what can be done to create and provide accessible reading tools and products to assist— collaborated in the presentation of a special conference on Monday, June 20th, with Fondazione LIA, Italy’s leading accessibility-in-reading program.
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