Call for piloting Guidelines on the Inclusion of Learners with Disabilities in Open and Distance Learning


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17 March 2017

UNESCO is looking for a higher educational institution delivering the Open and Distance Learning (ODL), in order to pilot and localize its document “Learning for All: Guidelines on the Inclusion of Learner with Disabilities in Open and Distance Learning”. The final deliverable should be a detailed Plan of Action for making higher education delivering ODL more inclusive for learners with disabilities.

The detailed Plan of Action should include: (i) assessment and analysis of current situation using the matrix of actions and technical annexes; (ii) identification of key challenges and opportunities, as well as (iii) concrete actions and recommendations for different educational stakeholders in order to make ODL inclusive for all learners.

The final delivery date is 15 November 2017.

The qualified entity shall apply the above-mentioned guidelines developed by UNESCO in its own organization or selected educational institutions delivering ODL on inclusion of students with disabilities and application of inclusive and accessible Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). The qualified entity should follow the recommendations and guidelines provided in the above-mentioned document, including matrix and technical annexes.

In order to be considered, interested entities should submit their Expression of Interest including the following information:

  • brief presentation of the organization including number of staff, turnover, years in business;
  • reference list demonstrating qualifications for participating in the possible upcoming solicitation process (at least two CVs of staff to be involved);
  • quotation regarding the fees to carry out the work using annexed form (see Annex I of this document), including a provisional timeline;
  • contact information (full name and address, country, telephone and fax numbers, e-mail address, website and contact person).

The Expression of Interest and accompanying documents (max. 10 pages) must be received by UNESCO no later than 24 April 2017, 18.00 p.m. Paris (France) time. Expressions of Interest can be sent by e-mails: i.kasinskaite(at) and z.varoglu(at)

More information on this call is available here.

Context and purpose

Approximately 15 per cent of the population, representing some 1 billion people in the world have a disability. This figure is accelerating in line with population increases, growing poverty, natural disasters, ongoing conflicts and an aging population. With such a large number of people living with a disability, it is vital that access to educational opportunities would be widely available to all learners.

In this regard, opportunities for Open and Distance Learning (ODL) may provide some solutions to the difficulties faced by persons with disabilities in accessing information and education. Furthermore, access to information and knowledge is recognized as one of the key fundamental human rights. Without access to reliable information and effective communication means, it is difficult to ensure an effective, inclusive and open learning and teaching process. Moreover, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) emphasizes access to education among other issues as an important consideration towards making reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities.

The qualified entity shall take into account the key concepts and principles of the UN CRPD, apply the guidelines developed by UNESCO, and furthermore apply human rights based approach and gender equality principles when analyzing the actions, processes and content provided for learners with disabilities. In addition, information and web accessibility should be considered as one of the quality education criteria.