Office of Accessibility and Inclusion

Highlights and Initiatives

Faculty Workshop on Students’ Mental Health

On March 1, 2024, the Office of Accessibility and Inclusion (OAI) held a workshop in collaboration with Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at LUMS for faculty members and the Deans of all LUMS schools. This inaugural session of the Faculty Workshop Series focused on enhancing faculty advising interactions with students, particularly addressing students' mental health struggles. The workshop equipped faculty and staff advisors with first responder training for handling student disclosures of mental health concerns. Additionally, OAI and CAPS addressed faculty questions about supporting academically struggling students.

Well-Being Workshops

OAI is dedicated to fostering an inclusive learning environment at LUMS. In line with this aim, the team partnered with Connect, a holistic healing platform, to organize two workshops: 'Hypnotherapy for Academic Excellence' and 'Regulating the Central Nervous System for Stress Management.' These sessions aimed to enhance students' self-awareness and introduce effective strategies for managing stress and anxiety. Going forward, the Office plans to launch a series of workshops in the upcoming semesters to support the overall well-being of students.

Sexual Harassment Training

On April 19 and 20, 2024, OAI hosted a training session on the effective implementation of the Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act, 2010. Conducted by senior trainers from Mehergarh, a nonprofit organisation specialising in human rights and women's rights, the session covered the nuances of gender issues, federal law, and inquiry procedures.

Training Sessions for Academic Support Staff

OAI, in collaboration with the Human Resources (HR) department, regularly conducts awareness sessions on workplace harassment for LUMS security guards and academic support staff. These sessions are held twice a month, with the goal of reaching all staff members, and intend to foster a healthy and secure working environment across campus.

Change in Leadership

Dr. Farah Nadeem took on the role of Director at OAI in November 2023. Dr. Nadeem, also serving as Assistant Professor, SOE, brings a strong focus on continuous process improvement. Meetings were held with the Accessibility Office, Harvard University. This initiative aimed to provide the team with valuable opportunities to enhance their understanding of academic accommodations and their processes by learning from experts in the field.

Support for Accessibility Requirements

OAI has continued to support students with physical accessibility measures. A key change from the ongoing conversation has been that the Dean of the School of Science & Engineering has instituted wheelchair accessible restrooms and classrooms, enabling full participation of the students with disabilities at the School.

Accessibility Committee Established

The Accessibility Committee at LUMS was officially established in the first week of April. This regulatory body is tasked with overseeing accommodations for persons with disabilities and advising on policies and case management to enhance accessibility across the university.

Student Perceptions on Academic Accommodations

Committed to continuous improvement, the OAI team conducted a survey at the end of the Fall 2023 semester to assess student perceptions of academic accommodations. The survey collected details on the types of accommodations students received (medical, mental, or both), their satisfaction with these accommodations, and their experiences with case management, application processes, and implementation by the OAI. It also included open-ended questions about the impact of these accommodations on students' academic performance and mental/physical health. Students reported that academic accommodations led to improved physical and mental well-being, reduced anxiety levels, enhanced academic performance, and better navigation of academic challenges.

Academic Accommodations and Accessibility

The office has extended academic accommodations to 185+ undergraduate and graduate students in the Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 semesters. These accommodations are provided after a thorough vetting process and range from assistive technology for students with visual impairments to note-taking assistance and captioning services for students with hearing difficulties. The accommodations program also covers alternative strategies to execute different learning components catering to individual student needs.

Federal Ombudsperson Visits LUMS

On November 16, 2023, LUMS hosted an awareness seminar led by Fauzia Viqar, the Federal Ombudsperson from the Federal Ombudsperson Secretariat for Protection against Harassment (FOSPAH). Organised by the Lahore office of FOSPAH, headed by Uzma Chughtai, the seminar was attended by over 50 students from various LUMS schools.

Ms. Viqar highlighted FOSPAH's role in providing timely justice to harassment victims and its advocacy work in educating on harassment behaviours and legal remedies available in Pakistan. She also discussed the recent amendments to the Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010, which allow students to file harassment complaints with their university's Inquiry Committee or directly with FOSPAH. Emphasising the vulnerability of students, Ms. Viqar assured that FOSPAH would actively protect students from harassment under its expanded jurisdiction.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Panel Discussion

In honour of World Inclusion Day, OAI hosted a panel discussion focused on fostering an inclusive and diverse environment, in collaboration with Human Resources at LUMS. LUMS is committed to enabling faculty, students, and staff to achieve their maximum potential through accessibility and inclusivity. The discussion aimed to shed light on how inclusivity—spanning gender diversity and accessibility for differently-abled individuals—can be undermined in the workplace. It highlighted the importance of addressing negative dynamics and shared strategies to promote an environment that supports inclusivity, diversity, and accessibility at LUMS.

Gender Equity Mapping Study at LUMS

OAI has launched its first internal review of gender termed ‘Gender Equity Mapping Study (GEMS)’. This initiative aims to establish a baseline for gender equity, equality, and inclusivity within the university by identifying critical gaps through lived experiences and proposing innovative solutions.

GEMS will assess the institutionalisation of gender equality in LUMS’ policies, culture, processes, and outcomes, focusing particularly on the experiences of faculty, staff, and students. This review will evaluate how well the university’s various departments and offices embody gender justice and inclusivity principles, identifying areas where gender disparities and biases persist. The findings will guide the development of an action plan to bridge these gaps, fostering a more inclusive and equitable environment.

As the first study of its kind in Pakistan, GEMS sets a precedent for future actions on gender equality, which is crucial for sustainable growth and inclusive development at any organisation.

Meeting with Founding Pro Chancellor Syed Babar Ali

On January 30, 2024, the OAI team met with Syed Babar Ali at his office at Packages to discuss the vision and mission of their office. The team members introduced themselves and outlined their ongoing work. Mr. Ali showed particular interest in the initiatives designed for students with mental health disabilities and emphasized the need to expand services for economically disadvantaged students at LUMS.

Additionally, he was briefed on the activities of the Gender and Sexual Harassment office, including how they handle complaints. Mr. Ali stressed the importance of upholding a zero-tolerance policy towards harassment at LUMS, reinforcing the commitment to maintaining a safe and inclusive educational environment.