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  • Writer's pictureHector Devia Robayo

Cultural, Linguistic, and Ethnic Diversity at UNAD: A Path towards Inclusion

Updated: May 30, 2023


Diversity is a fundamental value that enriches societies and promotes equity and inclusion. In the case of the National Open and Distance University (UNAD) of Colombia, this principle becomes a tangible reality. Through its distance education model supported by communication and information technologies, embodied in the Solidary Academic Pedagogical Project (Moreno et al., 2011), UNAD strives to provide inclusive education, fostering the training of Colombians from different regions of the country and abroad (Universidad Nacional Abierta y a Distancia, 2023). In this article, we will explore the richness of cultural, linguistic, and ethnic diversity present at UNAD, with special attention to the linguistic and cultural group of Deaf users of Colombian Sign Language (LSC).

UNAD: A Space of Diversity

UNAD stands as a space for encounter between diverse cultures, traditions, and histories. Its solidary academic pedagogical project is based on values such as resilience and the construction of an inclusive society. In this sense, the university presents itself as a welcoming family that embraces each of its members, regardless of their ethnic background, whether they are indigenous, rural, Afro-descendant, or other ethnic groups present throughout Colombian territory (Ministerio de Educación Nacional y Universidad Nacional Abierta y a Distancia, 2014).

Promoting Inclusion and Educational Quality

UNAD recognizes the importance of providing quality education to all its students and works tirelessly to ensure proper attention through Virtual Learning Environments. Furthermore, it is committed to offering a wide range of accessibility options, ensuring that students have the necessary tools to achieve academic success (Universidad Nacional Abierta y a Distancia UNAD, 2023).

The Linguistic and Cultural Group of Deaf Users of Colombian Sign Language (LSC)

Within the diversity present at UNAD, it is essential to highlight the linguistic and cultural group of Deaf users of Colombian Sign Language (LSC). These students, whose first language is LSC, find in UNAD an inclusive space that allows them to access higher education and develop their academic potential (Coy Guerrero et al., 2019; Lane et al., 2011; Oviedo, 2001).

UNAD has implemented measures to ensure that Deaf students have the necessary conditions for their learning. Through the incorporation of bilingual teachers in Colombian Sign Language - Spanish as Academic Support Advisors for the Deaf, who accompany Deaf students in each of their courses to ensure adequate pedagogical and didactic processes. These highly qualified professors not only facilitate access to education for Deaf individuals but also provide pedagogical support to tutors of virtual courses, promoting the implementation of actions related to Inclusive Education and reasonable accommodations (Ministerio de Educación Nacional, 2013; Universidad Nacional Abierta y a Distancia UNAD, 2019, articles 31 and 32).

In addition to the presence of Bilingual Academic Advisors, UNAD strives to raise awareness among the student and faculty community about the reality of Deaf individuals and the importance of Inclusive Education. Respect for linguistic diversity is encouraged, and an inclusive learning environment is promoted, where all students feel valued and respected.

A Path towards Continuous Improvement

Although UNAD has made significant progress in terms of inclusion, it recognizes that there is still work to be done. The university continues to expand its efforts towards continuous improvement, implementing additional measures to strengthen accessibility and ensure that no student is left behind (Bautista Moreno, 2021; Montilla and Higuera, 2021).


UNAD stands out as an example of cultural, linguistic, and ethnic diversity in the educational field. Through its commitment to inclusion and educational quality, the university provides opportunities to students from different regions and with different forms of communication, such as the linguistic and cultural group of Deaf users of Colombian Sign Language (LSC). UNAD continues to work towards strengthening its inclusive approach and promoting quality education for all, recognizing that diversity is a value that should be celebrated and valued at all educational levels.


Bautista Moreno, I. A. (2021). Diagnóstico de acceso y permanencia de estudiantes sordos, usuarios de la Lengua de Señas Colombiana, en la UNAD [Proyecto Aplicado o Tesis, Universidad Nacional Abierta y a Distancia (UNAD Colombia)].

Coy Guerrero, L. Y., Pérez, J. C., y Cañon, V. F. (2019). Inclusión educativa con enfoque diferencial en la UNAD a través de las TIC. Memorias Sifored, 1(2), 107-115.

Lane, H. L., Pillard, R., y Hedberg, U. (2011). The people of the eye: Deaf ethnicity and ancestry. Oxford University Press.

Ministerio de Educación Nacional. (2013). Lineamientos de política de educación superior inclusiva—Ministerio de Educación Nacional de Colombia. MEN; PDF.

Ministerio de Educación Nacional y Universidad Nacional Abierta y a Distancia. (2014). Educación inclusiva en la Educación Superior en Colombia y en la Universidad Nacional Abierta y a Distancia – UNAD – Estado del Arte. UNAD.

Montilla, J. P. Z., y Higuera, L. A. A. (2021). Voces de Estudiantes con Discapacidad. Reflexiones en Torno a Procesos Educativos en Educación Superior a Distancia.

Moreno, A. H., Alvarez, W. C., García, L. J. S., Iregui, G. T., Tafur, F. A. T., Díaz, E. G. R., Bastidas, S. E. C., Triana, B., Velasco, C. C., Afanador, J. A. L., Hurtado, G. I. V., y Guerrero, M. C. (2011). Proyecto Académico Pedagógico Solidario V. 3. Consejo Superior Universitario - UNAD.

Oviedo, A. (2001). Apuntes para una gramática de la lengua de señas colombiana. República de Colombia, Ministerio de Educación Nacional, Instituto Nacional para Sordos : Escuela de Ciencias del Lenguaje, Universidad del Valle.

Universidad Nacional Abierta y a Distancia. (2023). Acerca de la UNAD [Institucional]. Transparencia y Acceso a la Información Pública.

Universidad Nacional Abierta y a Distancia UNAD. (2019). Estatuto Organizacional de la Universidad Nacional Abierta y a Distancia (UNAD)—Acuerdo 039 de 2019. Consejo Superior Universitario.

Universidad Nacional Abierta y a Distancia UNAD. (2023). Tecnologías de inclusión [Instirucional]. Vicerrectoría de Medios y Medaciones Pedagógicas.

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