Universiteit Leiden

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Studying with a disability

Thursday 20 April 2017
Nieuwe Energie
3e Binnenvestgracht 23
2312 NR Leiden

What is it like studying with a functional disability? What role do lecturers and student counsellors play?

Students with disabilities are still encountering difficulties during their studies. At the same time, there is the question of where the limits lie in providing facilities. These are the kinds of issues that will be discussed at the symposium.

Together with students, the University is organising this symposium for students, lecturers and student counsellors and others who are involved. This is a follow-up to the working conference held on 20 September last year, where both staff and students expressed their wish to broaden the context of the discussion on studying with a functional disability.  

The symposium will be dual language: Dutch and English. The English-language parts will be summarised in Dutch by the chair of the symposium.

The conference is being organised together with students from Leiden University.


Jiska Stad-Ogier is a student at Leiden University and is part of the ‘Wij Staan Op!’ organisation, that draws attention to people with a functional disability. Together with other students, she is involved in organising the symposium. Jiska is an expert at explaining what it means to study with a functional disability. She and a number of other students will be interviewed during the symposium about her experiences.

About the speakers

Rianne Feijt

Rianne Feijt MSc is a PhD student at Leiden University in the department of Education and Child Studies, in the Special Education/Learning Disabilities section. Her research interest is focused on learning/instruction for university students with disabilities. In this presentation, she reports on methods and techniques identified by university students with and without disabilities that influence their ability to learn from university lectures. Such information could be used by university instructors to make their lectures more accessible for students with disabilities. The information can also guide the development of potentially more effective lectures for university students with disabilities.

Daan Romein

Daan Romein (ICLON) is an educational adviser, specialising in educational development, who will give a presentation on didactics and supporting students with studying with a disability. The focus will be on how to develop courses in such a way that students with a disability can connect better connection with the programme and their fellow students. During the discussion there will be time to explore how to create an open and safe setting that all students can benefit from.

Hasan Davis

Hasan Davis is director of Hasan Davis Solutions. He devotes his daily life to supporting young people, youth organisations and young professionals. From 2008 to 2014 Hasan was Deputy Commissioner and later Commissioner of the Kentucky Juvenile Justice System. Davis derives his inspiration from his own life story: his transformation from a young boy with ADHD and dyslexia, involved with street gangs, to a man with a degree in Law who wants to give young people a chance.  





Welcome by Jiska Stad-Ogier (We stand up!) and Sabina Beijne (SOZ/SSS), and introduction of the symposium chair, Aminata Cairo (Diversity Office)


Première of a short film which students with a functional disability introduce themselves


Speech by Hester Bijl, Vice-Rector Magnificus, Leiden University


Presentation by Rianne Feijt (PhD student) on her research on teaching and learning problems


Presentation by educational adviser Daan Romein (ICLON) on didactics


Keynote speech by Hasan Davis on dyslexia, ADHD and his life course  




Student interviews about their experiences and vision


Table sessions


Plenary feedback from table sessions with a student panel


Closure and drinks



Table sessions

During the table sessions you can discuss a number of issues in greater depth. The table sessions will be led by students and colleagues.  

Dyslexia: how students feel
Hasan Davis

In this table session students can exchange experiences on studying with dyslexia. Lecturers and study advisers will share their experiences on supervising these students. The aim is to  make it easier for  people to understand one another, express their feelings, come up with solutions and break down stereotypes.

Students supporting students
Aminata Cairo – Diversity Office and Jasper Bitter  Study and Student Support

In this table session, students are invited to talk about how they can become  ‘allies’ for students with a functional disability.   How can you offer support without denigrating the person you are aiming to help? How can you as an individual or together with your organisation play a greater role in helping students with a functional disability to feel welcome and valued.

Images of invisible functional disabilities
Romke Biagioni – Fenestra Disability Centre

What does an invisible functional disability entail, and what kinds of problems do students come up against?  Negative experiences mean that students are reticent to communicate about their diagnosis and problems. And there is also the fact that each person’s diagnosis is different. How can lecturers and student advisers create an atmosphere in which students can talk openly about their functional disability?

Daan Romein – ICLON

During this session participants will exchange experiences about creating an inclusive learning environment in which all individuals with apparent or invisible disabilities are able to study optimally. Through discussion with students, lecturers and study advisers, we will look for practical ways of making teaching more accessible.

Organisation and work pressure: what are the limits to what the institution and staff can do?
Rudy Dikken – study adviser, Faculty of Law

Lecturers and study advisers are generally very willing to supervise and facilitate students with a functional disability. But they also have some questions: how far should we go with our supervision? Aren’t students also expected to learn to work independently? If we give too intensive supervision to students, isn’t there a risk that the final learning outcomes of their programme may not be achieved? Lecturers already have a very heavy workload, so how can they take on this additional supervision?   


Go to the registration form

See also: Studying with a disability

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