A high school prioritizing the admission of students with disabilities
- Reverse Integration Policy
- Country of Implementation
- Start Year
- First published
“Living and learning together by embracing diversity.” Dr. Martina Mikovits, SZU Head Teacher
Schulzentrum Ungargasse (SZU) is a technical high school located in Vienna. The school prioritizes the admission of students with physical and sensory disabilities and provides them with the necessary support to participate in the lessons, such as free assistive devices and support teachers. The school provides barrier-free architecture and boarding facilities. In 2023 the school had 1,200 students, 30 per cent with disabilities. SZU is a Model United Nations partner, a UNESCO school, and a European Youth Parliament partner.
Many high schools do not or cannot address the special needs of students with disabilities.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
Schulzentrum Ungargasse (SZU) is a high school with a focus on technical and business subjects for youth aged 14–19, located in Vienna, Austria. SZU follows a reverse integration policy when admitting new students, meaning that young people with physical and sensory disabilities are admitted initially. Only when this process is complete are the classes then filled with other students. All students are taught according to the Austrian national curriculum, but students with additional needs are provided with assistive personnel and technical support as well as individual tutoring, if required. When required, students with disabilities are granted extended time for exams. Additional activities such as language programmes and sports weeks as well as services such as physiotherapy and wheelchair gymnastics ensure integration into regular school life. Students with and without impairments alike benefit from this system of integrated teaching. Accessible facilities and a custom architectural environment for students with disabilities enhance the quality of this form of teaching. Spacious and well-equipped classrooms also provide pedagogical advantages. Class sizes are smaller than usual and teaching assistants are available, if required. Students without disabilities also gain from the inclusive schooling model as they gain confidence in working together with people with disabilities.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
SZU is a state-funded school. It evaluates and implements new technologies (e.g., students’ digital devices and systems), increases technical support, and expands physical education opportunities for its disabled students. The school regularly receives visits from international delegations and is often cited as a best-practice example. (Awardee 2024)