EPFL aims to provide a welcoming, accessible and inclusive environment for all its students and staff, so that everyone can thrive and succeed.
EPFL attaches particular importance to the diversity of its community, which contributes to its intellectual, scientific and cultural wealth. However, day-to-day life at EPFL still involves obstacles and challenges that are out of place, and which particularly affect people with neurodiversity, chronic illnesses or sensory, physical or other impairments.
The “EPFL Without Barriers” project aims to assess existing social and environmental barriers, and to develop and improve the School’s ability to welcome its entire community under the best possible conditions. The project is equally aimed at students, academic staff as well as administrative and technical staff.
Organized around seven thematic areas, the project aims to reach the following objectives by the end of 2023:
- Establish the current state of inclusion at EPFL
- Verify EPFL’s compliance with current legal requirements, norms and standards
- Identify unmet needs and areas for improvement
- Formulate recommendations and make proposals to the upper management in terms of actions and institutional approach
- Communicate final results
The aim is to formulate an institutional strategy with an action plan which will then be implemented in concrete actions. The project also aims to improve understanding of the diversity of personal conditions, and to create links between the people concerned and their peers within the various bodies (student, intermediate, teaching, administrative and technical) and the School’s associations.
In order to first identify, and then reduce – or, if possible, eliminate – any remaining social and environmental barriers at EPFL, an essential first step is hearing directly from those of you affected by such barriers. A call for contributions has been designed to give people in the EPFL community who meet barriers, as well as their friends, colleagues and family members, the opportunity to share anonymously both their positive and negative experiences and their ideas to improve things. This short questionnaire was open from May until end of August 2023. Communication on the results will follow in the coming months after analysis.
The Steering Committee is responsible for strategic decision-making on the project.
The project team, with its seven thematic working groups, is responsible for establishing the current state of inclusion in relevant areas of the school.
The active involvement of members of the EPFL community is a fundamental principle of the project. This is ensured by the “Perspective of concerned people” working group.
- Gisou van der Goot, VPT (chair)
- Kathryn Hess Bellwald, AVP-SAO
- Pierre Dillenbourg, AVP-E
- Claudia Noth, VPO-DRH
- Franco Vigliotti, VPO-DDC
- Eric Du Pasquier, VPO-SE
- Rafael Corvalan, VPO-DSI
- Gaël Hürlimann, Médiacom
- Basile Morier, student body representative, member of the School Assembly
- Antoine Hoffmann, intermediary body representative, member of the School Assembly
- Frédéric Dreyer, administrative and technical staff representative, member of the School Assembly
- Fabienne Segu, external specialist, Forum handicap Vaud
- Alireza Darvishy, external specialist, Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW)
- Sonja Moghaddari, coordination VPT-EGA
- Helene Füger, coordination support VPT-EGA
- Damien Quaglia, AVP-SAO SAE
- Isabelle Cahour, AVP-E GE
- Gaël Revelin, VPA-SISBE
- Matteo Galli, VPA-EM-APR
- Jessica Pallie, VPO-DRH RHPP
- Barry Stanton, VPO-DC CNST
- Marie-Noëlle Morais, VPO-SE SIS-SEC
- Natalie Meystre, VPO-DSI
- Maureen Décosterd, P-MEDIACOM MEV
- Xurxo-Adriàn Entenza, P-MEDIACOM MEC
- Alexandre Saint-Amour, VPT-DUR
- Claire Saout, VPT-DUR
- and 6 people with a physical or sensory impairment, neurodiversity or chronic illness (3 men and 3 women from the student body, administrative staff or scientific staff)
Resources and legal basis
- Federal Office for Equality for People with Disabilities (Bureau fédéral de l’égalité pour les personnes handicapées BFEH – in FR/DE/IT only)
- FRH Foundation
- Forum handicap Vaud (FR)
- Inclusion handicap (FR/DE)
- Swissuniability (FR/DE)
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- Federal Act on the Elimination of Discrimination against People with Disabilities
- Ordonnance sur le personnel du domaine des EPF, Art.11, lit.b (2001) (FR/DE/IT)
- LEX 2.6.5 Procedure for support measures and LEX 2.6.5 adapted study schedules for disabled students at EPFL
Teaching and Research
News and activities
PhD student Cristiano Trevisin has been hearing-impaired since childhood. He’s working to make EPFL more accessible for people facing various barriers.
As part of the Assistive Technologies Challenge, EPFL students developed two apps to help people with low or no vision.
Nathalie Bui, a first-year Master’s student in EPFL’s chemistry program, has Asperger’s syndrome – a mild form of autism. She took part in a panel discussion on 9 October as part of the 2023 Health Days.
Health Days were held from October 9 to 13 at EPFL, organized by the Mental Health and Wellbeing Task Force, the Centre Sport et Santé UNIL-EPFL and the University of Lausanne.
In the framework of the Innovation Booster Technology & Special Needs, the FRH awards cheques for innovation projects addressing equality at work, autonomous living or digital accessibility.
From May 22 to 24, 2023, the Foundation for Research in Favor of the Disabled organized the Accessibility Week 2023 at the Gotham Gare co-working space in Lausanne.
April 5, 2023, 1pm to 5:15pm. Experiencing disability situations in order to understand them was the approach and objective of this immersive workshop accompanied by experts. It addressed reduced mobility, aging, dyslexia, neurodivergences, as well as visual and auditory disabilities.
March 23, 2023, 10:30am to 1pm. This workshop gave participants an insight into the day-to-day life of people facing barriers in the university environment, and suggested ways of promoting inclusion, participation and autonomy.