The Dyslexia Initiative is a student-interest group that strives for making Karlshochschule an academically inclusive institution for people with learning disabilities.
The large body of international students at Karlshochschule revealed that Germany is rather lacking behind when it comes to inclusive learning. Other countries have far better educational didactics and resources, which are available for those with a learning disability. While Germany already adopted laws for more inclusive education, the implementation leaves much to be desired. Therefore, we, as an initiative, are striving for a better learning environment and have created five goals:
- Standardized application for aids on examinations
- Hosting educational event for the university
- Change of teaching techniques for language class
- Provide access to digital aids
- Cooperate with other universities and interest organizations
Learning disabilities manifest themselves by changing how people perceive and comprehend information. This means that a person with a learning disability, such as dyslexia, might need a different path to come to the desired solution than is considered standard. The emphasis here is on standard procedure, as students with learning disabilities might result in prejudice for how they comprehend information, due to the different needs. Our current understanding of "normal" learning does not tolerate these needs. Thus, we should question what "normal" learning substitutes and how we, as a society, may expand it to foster more inclusion. We, as a student-interest group, do not want to provide assistance for learning-disabled students, but instead change teaching methods. Every student should be able to utilize their strengths.
The education system of Germany unfortunately systematically discourages people with learning disabilities from realizing higher education due to shame. Thus, we must work to remove the stigma surrounding learning disabilities and empower all students to take their chance! Moreover, it is crucial to provide lecturers with an understanding on how learning disabilities manifest themselves and provide them with better suited tools of teaching. This way students may be able to learn better.
Personal statement from a student about having dyslexia in the German education system:
“In the German system, in which I grew up, there is much more stigma surrounding learning disabilities, for instance as with dyslexia. This might surprise international students that come from a country where there they have access to aids created for learning disabilities. Teachers and people of the older generations especially are quick to label these students as lazy or even simpleminded. Especially in my days, the education system was not tailored to account for students with learning disabilities, as we were split according to our three-prong education approach after primary school. This was based on grades, dividing students in Hauptschule, Realschule and finally Gymnasium. The latter being more difficult to enter, as most grades were acquired with an extensive focus on writings exams. Difficulties with spelling might prove fatal in achieving good grades.
Furthermore, cementing the belief that students with dyslexia where simply mentally not up for the task. Some teachers even took it upon themselves to inform my mother that I was not supposed to be in the Gymnasium as I had dyslexia and therefore was not capable enough. This fate is not limited to dyslexia but happens to all students with learning disabilities. The only assistance I ever received in the German education system was more time, considered that my disability does not take a break, this is almost useless. The system has since changed slightly but not notably enough and especially not to support students with learning disabilities.“