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Thursday 23 September 2021

On Wednesday 22 September, UniLaSalle celebrated the 10th anniversary of its Mission Handicap around a round table on access to the scientific world (higher education, employment, research) and testimonies from students who are supported or committed to inclusion. Active on the 4 campuses, this service gives students with disabilities the means to pursue their education without any hitch.

"We often hear that integrating people with disabilities into higher education is an impossible thing. And then there are schools like UniLaSalle that say that yes, it is possible!"

Behind the enthusiastic words of Margaux, a 5th year student-engineer, a service is working discreetly on the 4 UniLaSalle campuses to enable some 200 students with disabilities to pursue their education without hindrance. For the past 10 years, Mission Handicap has been raising awareness, providing support and investing in equipment in order to adapt courses to the specific needs of students, regardless of their disabilities.


Sensitized and mobilized students

Beyond the academic aspect, Mission Handicap has also been able to instill a real inclusive dynamic within many Lasallian student associations. Today, on UniLaSalle's campuses, most student associations have a disability referent who works to enable students with disabilities to participate fully in the social and associative life of the campuses.

International mobility, the pebble in the shoe

On the inclusion front, the current focus is on access to international mobility. The lack of continuity in access to care and support, administrative and financial barriers and difficulties related to transportation are among the main obstacles to international mobility for students with disabilities.

However, the experience abroad contributes to the construction of the student, to the development of his or her life project or to the affirmation of his or her future professional ambitions. Followed by UniLaSalle's Mission Handicap since he entered his first year, Grégoire was able to go to Mexico as part of the Go LaSalle program. An experience that "transformed" him, according to him. By making the link with his host university, a member like UniLaSalle of the worldwide network of La Salle universities, Mission Handicap ensured that everything went well for Grégoire.

The experience accumulated by UniLaSalle in this area now enables it to play a leading role in advancing the cause of students with disabilities. When the Conférence des Grandes Ecoles was entrusted by the Government with the task of drafting an exploratory study on the international mobility of students with disabilities, it was to UniLaSalle's Mission Handicap that it turned. Xavier Quernin and Mélanie De Sousa, in charge of the disability mission at the engineering school, submitted 79 proposals for improvement to Franck Riester, Minister Delegate to the Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, and Sophie Cluzel, Secretary of State for the Disabled, following an in-depth survey conducted worldwide with over 90 experts and dozens of universities.  


A dynamic that has received several awards

In 10 years of activity, UniLaSalle's Mission Handicap has been rewarded on several occasions for its actions in favour of more inclusive higher education. In addition to an APAJH (Association for Adults and Young People with Disabilities) Trophy received in 2013 for the personalized support of students and its innovative character, Mission Handicap has also received awards for certain specific actions.

In 2013, for example, the school received a Hand-Friends trophy for the handi-accessibility of a geology field camp in the mountains for a student with a motor disability. More recently, the Guide Babine project, initiated by Mission Handicap and a group of Geology and Environment student-engineers, was a finalist in the International Green Gown Awards in the "Positive Impact on Society" category, a few months after being awarded a Francophone Trophy for Responsible Campuses.


Unwavering support from companies

UniLaSalle's Mission Handicap can count on companies to carry out its missions under the best possible conditions. In 10 years, 12 companies have contributed to the operation of Mission Handicap, in particular by participating in the financing of facilities (adapted equipment or speakers) or by taking on Lasallian students on work experience.

UniLaSalle would like to warmly thank TotalEnergies, the Mutualité Sociale Agricole, ISAGRI, Cerfrance, the NGPA Group, Ginger (CEBTP & BURGEAP & DELEO), Elior France, SUEZ, Nestlé - Fronerie, Silliker Mérieux Nutrisciences, ADM - Neovia, IFP Energies nouvelles, as well as the Ministry of Agriculture and Food for their support.

What about the future?

In the future, Mission Handicap intends to continue its efforts to promote the inclusion of students with disabilities in both teaching and student life, and to continue to campaign for an international status that will facilitate their access to mobility abroad.