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INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

Three Questions for Dr. Carsten Bender on Accessibility at TU Dort­mund University

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Portrait photo of Dr. Carsten Bender. © Felix Schmale​/​TU Dort­mund
Dr. Carsten Bender explains in which areas TU Dort­mund University is already fully accessible and where he still sees development potential.

Dr. Carsten Bender has been in charge of the Department of Disabilities and Studies (DoBuS) in the Center for Higher Education at TU Dort­mund University since 1 January, 2019. DoBuS strives to create equitable conditions of study for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses; in this field, TU Dort­mund University already holds a vanguard position nationwide. On December 3, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Carsten Bender sets out further potential for development.

Dr. Bender, do the new elevator at the Mensa bridge and the wheelchair ramp at the parking lot on Otto-Hahn-Straße mark the end of construction work for accessibility at TU Dort­mund University?

No, for example, the area around the bus stop under the Mensa bridge still needs to be remodeled so that everyone has safe, unimpeded access to the campus. But, on the whole, we are in a pretty good place with regard to building accessibility at TU Dort­mund University – not least because the Department of Construction and Facility Management does an extremely good job in this area.

Apart from architectural accessibility, obstacles also have to be removed in research and teaching. Where do you still see a need for action in this area?

Accessibility is not just a question of building infrastructure but much, much more. One major topic is digitization at the university. Here we need to fully exploit our potential for students with disabilities and, at the same time, prevent new barriers being erected. For example, e-learning offerings can be a great help to chronically ill students because they are not bound by time and space. Moreover, when they are designed for accessibility, they also offer opportunities to students with hearing or visual impairments. In 2020, DoBuS will expand its advisory services in this area and not only advise and train students, but also colleagues in research and teaching as well as in technical services and administration.

With regard to disability and studying, TU Dort­mund University is seen as a national leader. Where do you still see room for development?

From the BeSt-2-Studie we know that of the 96 percent of students who have difficulties studying because of health issues, these difficulties are not obvious to outsiders. Through our advisory services it has become clear that these students very often hesitate to reveal study-related problems linked with depression, anxiety, cancer or reading and writing disorders when dealing with staff and other students – partly because they are worried about being stigmatized or suffering discrimination. The World Health Organization (WHO) has adopted the term attitudinal barriers which we use in the sense of an internationally recognized understanding of disability. Every one of us as well as TU Dort­mund University as a whole should ask ourselves how we can dismantle these barriers in our minds.

 

Vita

Dr. Carsten Bender (b. 1979) studied special education at TU Dort­mund. In 2017, he won the Dissertation Award of TU Dort­mund University for his analytical study of both the social environment and its perception of the situation of people with age-correlated sight loss. Before becoming head of DoBuS in 2019, he was employed in research and teaching both in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Sciences and the Institute of Sociology. It is characteristic of his work that he includes insights he extrapolates from his own experience of impairment and disability.

 

Further information

Department of Disabilities and Studies (DoBuS)

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Location & approach

The campus of TU Dort­mund University is located close to interstate junction Dort­mund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dort­mund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is "Dort­mund-Eichlinghofen" (closer to Campus Süd), and from B 1 / A 40 "Dort­mund-Dorstfeld" (closer to Campus Nord). Signs for the university are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dort­mund.

To get from Campus Nord to Campus Süd by car, there is the connection via Vogelpothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at Campus Nord and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.

TU Dort­mund University has its own train station ("Dort­mund Universität"). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dort­mund main station ("Dort­mund Hauptbahnhof") and Düsseldorf main station via the "Düsseldorf Airport Train Station" (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 20 or 30 minutes). The university is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.

You can also take the bus or subway train from Dort­mund city to the university: From Dort­mund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station "Stadtgarten", usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At "Stadtgarten" you switch trains and get on line U42 towards "Hombruch". Look out for the Station "An der Palmweide". From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dort­mund University leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dort­mund main station to the stop "Dort­mund Kampstraße". From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop "Dort­mund Wittener Straße". Switch to bus line 447 and get off at "Dort­mund Universität S".

Dort­mund Airport offers flights to several destinations in Central Europe. There are regular connections to Katowice, Kraków, London and Munich. For the approximately 20km-trip from Dort­mund Airport to TU Dort­mund University, you can use a shuttle bus to the railway Station "Bahnhof Holzwickede", from which trains depart to Dort­mund main station (please visit Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr for more information). Normally, the fastest way is to catch a taxi at Dort­mund Airport.

The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dort­mund University. There are two stations on Campus Nord. One ("Dort­mund Universität S") is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the university directly with the city of Dort­mund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the "Technologiepark" and (via Campus Süd) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at Campus Nord and offers a direct connection to Campus Süd every five minutes.