JOB POST: Capacity Builder, Intellectual Disabilities, Bolivia (Texto en ingles y español)

Posted on 11 May 2009. Filed under: Announcements, Capacity Building and Leadership, Children, Cognitive Impairments, Education, Families, Jobs & Internships, Latin America & Caribbean, Opportunities | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Texto en español

Capacity Builder in Intellectual Disabilities-Ricerca y Cooperazione, El Alto, Bolivia.

Ricerca y Cooperazione (RC) is an Italian based NGO, with an established development programme in Bolivia, mainly in the area of education for children and youth. Recognising the need for greater inclusion of disabled children in mainstream education, it is implementing an EU funded project entitled ‘Social Inclusion and Mutual Respect’, in coordination with the Municipality of El Alto, in order to educate children, teachers, families and authorities on how to incorporate disabled children into the classroom; a concept which is largely overlooked in Boliva.

Your role will be to compliment the small multidisciplinary technical team of the project, (1 specialist in physical disabilities, 1 in sensory, and you in intellectual) in order that all disabilities are represented. The work will include a diagnostic of children with disabilities in El Alto, designing and implementing training workshops to various beneficiaries, production of educational material, and assist in creating an integral centre – which will serve as a resource for families of disabled children, and also an area for activities with disabled and non-disabled youth.

Ideally educated to Masters level, in a discipline related to intellectual disabilities, you should be experienced in designing and facilitating workshops with participatory methods. Preferably with knowledge and experience in Latin America; of the idiosyncrasies of the disability field in a developing country. Good Spanish and a highly flexible working approach.

Applications can be made in English, Spanish or Italian. Follow this link to view or download a full Job Description. Please send completed applications using the format found here to: feliza@isbolivia.org and e.cipollini@ongrc.org

Deadline for applications: Friday 22nd May 2009.

http://isbolivia.org/blog/?page_id=5


Ricerca y Cooperazione (RC) es una ONG italiana, que cuenta con un programa de desarrollo establecido en Bolivia, principalmente en el área de la educación para jóvenes y niños. Reconociendo la necesidad de una mayor inclusión de los niños con discapacidad en la educación transversal, actualmente se encuentra implementando un proyecto financiado por la UE llamado “Inclusión social y respeto mutuo” en coordinación con el municipio de El Alto, a fin de educar a los niños, maestros, familias y autoridades en cómo incorporar a los niños con discapacidad en las aulas; concepto que es pasado por alto en Bolivia.

Su rol será complementar el equipo técnico multidisciplinario del proyecto. (1 especialista en discapacidad física, 1 en discapacidad sensorial y usted en discapacidad intelectual) para que estén representadas todos los tipos de discapacidad. El trabajo incluirá un diagnóstico de los niños con discapacidad en El Alto, diseñando e implementando talleres de capacitación para varios beneficiarios, producción de materiales educativos y asistir en la creación de un centro integral, el cual servirá como recurso para las familias de los niños con discapacidad como también será un área para las actividades de los jóvenes con o sin discapacidad.

Se requiere una formación universitaria a nivel de Maestría en disciplinas relacionadas con la discapacidad intelectual, con experiencia en diseño y facilitación de talleres con métodos participativos. Preferentemente con conocimientos y experiencia en Latinoamérica en relación a las idiosincrasias en el campo de la discapacidad en un país en desarrollo. Buen conocimiento del castellano y un enfoque de trabajo flexible. Para una Descripcion mas Completa, vea abajo (solo en ingles).

Las solicitudes pueden ser realizadas en idioma inglés, castellano o italiano italiano y enviadas a los siguientes correos electrónicos: feliza@isbolivia.org y e.cipollini@ongrc.org utilizando el formulario encontrado en la siguiente página Web.

Fecha límite para las solicitudes: Viernes 22 de mayo de 2009.



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Enabling Education Network Desires Feedback for Website Redesign

Posted on 5 February 2009. Filed under: Announcements, Call for Comments or Information, Children, Cross-Disability, Education, Inclusion, Opportunities | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

[Note to We Can Do readers: For years, people in the field of disability inclusive education have turned to the Enabling Education Network (EENET) for information, resources, and opportunities for debate. EENET has disseminated the following announcement, and is seeking responses by the end of February 2009.]

This year EENET is going to redesign its website. A very kind volunteer in EENET Asia has offered to do all the work for free. So, now we need to get some feedback from people who use the website, so that we can make sure we create a new website that is more useful and user-friendly.

The attached questions may help you give feedback. But please do tell us anything you want about the website — what is good, what is bad and what you would like to see on the website in future.

Please share this request for feedback with anyone else you know who uses the EENET website.

Thanks in advance for any feedback you can give.
Best wishes
Ingrid

EENET website redesign

In 2009 EENET’s website – www.eenet.org.uk –– is going to be redesigned and relaunched. This will be the first significant redesign since the website was created in 1997. So it’s important that we get it right!

The detailed evaluation of EENET in 2006 told us that there are various aspects of the website that are not user-friendly, and users sometimes find it difficult to locate the information they want from the huge selection available.

We now want to top up the evaluation results with some more recent feedback on what you like and don’t like, and what you want to see on the new website.

The following questions are of particular interest to us, but please feel free to send comments about other aspects of the website as well.

Thank you in advance for your help.

1) Organising documents
There are two main options for how we can organise the content on the website:

(a) we could list documents according to type of document (e.g. training manuals, short articles, long reports, etc). Under this option you would see a list of, for instance, all the training manuals available covering all aspects of inclusive education

(b) we could list documents according to inclusive education themes (e.g. gender, working children, disability, refugees, emergencies, etc). With this option you would see all the information available under that theme (you would see a list of all articles, reports, manuals, posters, links to other websites, etc on the theme of, for instance, ‘inclusive education and refugees’).

Which option would you prefer and why?
We could design the site so that both options are available, but before we take this more complicated route, we first want to know if one option is a lot more popular than the other!

2) Search facility
The current search facility within the EENET website is using outdated technology and isn’t very helpful. To help us improve the search facility, please tell us how you search for items on the EENET website. Do you mostly search for items according to:

  • subject area
  • a known document title
  • country
  • name of an organisation/NGO
  • a known author name
  • other (please specify)

3) Which website section(s) do you find most useful? Why?

4) Which website section(s) do you find least useful? Why?

5) Is there anything about the website that you find particularly confusing or frustrating? If so, how could we overcome this problem?

6) Documents in other languages
We currently have a separate section where users can go directly to a list of documents in other languages (it contains a random selection, as we rely on volunteers to do translations). Should we keep this separate section http://www.eenet.org.uk/other_langs/documents.shtml? Or should we remove this section and simply list any translations next to their English versions?

7) Word, PDF or html
Which format do you prefer / find most convenient for accessing and reading documents? Please explain why you prefer this format.

  • Html pages that you read online
  • PDF file downloads
  • Word file downloads

8) Please tell us about anything else that you think will help us make an EENET website that meets your needs!

If you are not already familiar with it, please explore the EENET website at www.eenet.org.uk. Then, send your responses to the above questions to EENET at info@eenet.org.uk by the end of February 2009.



I received this announcement via EENET’s Eastern Africa email discussion group, which focuses on discussion related to disability inclusion education in Eastern Africa.

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News from Kyrgyzstan: Projects, Laws, Funding Opportunities

Posted on 27 August 2008. Filed under: Children, Cross-Disability, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Families, Funding, Human Rights, News, Policy & Legislation, Uncategorized, youth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The following newsletter was sent to We Can Do from Kyrgyzstan–thanks to Azat Israilov for passing this on. This contains news about projects for people with disabilities in Kyrgyzstan; a new law protecting the rights of people with disabilities; the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and announcements for a couple of funding opportunities. Content of Newsletter; Bottom of this page

We are for equal possibilities and better future!
INFORMATIONAL BULLETIN

The newsletter is published under the Health Prom project “Supporting young disabled children and their families in KR” funded by the Big Lottery Fund

July 2008
Content:
Letter from A.Israilov, national in-country project manager
Project “Supporting young disabled children and their families” funded by the Big Lottery Fund started in Kyrgyzstan
Brief information about participants of the project
HealthProm visit to Kyrgyzstan to start the project
Young people: new horizons!
President signed the Decree “About the rights and guarantees for persons with disabilities”
UN adopted the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities
The new law about social order accepted
Japanese agency for international cooperation plans to open a centre for
people with disabilities

Projects on employment for disabled people
The Japanese fund of reduction of poverty is intended to support disabled children
Children on holiday in Issyk Kul
Grants

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Dear readers, colleagues and partners,

We welcome you on the pages of the first issue of the Informational bulletin which is published under the HealthProm project “Supporting young disabled children and their families in KR”, financed by the Big Lottery Fund. The important aims of the bulletin will be providing news that are related to children with special needs and their families, and also updating on the progress of the project. The bulletin will be published and distributed once a quarter. At the same time neither the project, nor the bulletin will be involved in political processes in the country. In the first issue you will find some information on the project, its participants and also learn about
some latest events in social sphere of Kyrgyzstan.

It is hoped that the bulletin as a specialist publication will continue its existence beyond the project, and will become a useful source of information for parents and concerned organizations and people. And to become so we will be delighted to publish your interesting news and helpful information which you would like to share with.
Sincerely,
A.Israilov, national in-country project manager

“Supporting young disabled children and their families in KR”
Contacts: Bishkek, m/r Kok-Zhar, h. 1, p/p 4, Tel./fax (0312) 517634, aisrail@gmail.com

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Project “Supporting young disabled children and their families” funded by the Big Lottery Fund started in Kyrgyzstan
Charitable organisation HealthProm, located in London, UK, together with the Association of Parents of Disabled Children (ARDI) and Public Association “Shoola Kol” has started a project “Supporting young disabled children and their families in the Kyrgyz Republic” funded by the Big Lottery Fund. The project is for three years and will help to establish two rehabilitation and resource centres in two pilot localities – Bishkek and Issyk-Kul oblast with Bokonbaevo v. as a centre. The project aims to improve on improving health and well-being of young children with disabilities and their parents through rehabilitation services, informational support and consultations. The project will not be involved in politics.

Prior to the project beginning there were study visits and research done during which the distress of people with disabilities, especially children, was revealed, whose families belong to the group with the lowest incomes in the country. According to the Ministry of Labour and Social Development, there are about 117 thousand people with disabilities in the republic now, out of them more than nineteen thousand are younger than 18, and 66% out of general number live in rural areas. The number of the disabled makes up 2,1% of the whole population while in the developed countries this figure varies approximately from 10 up to 20% (for example, in
the UK it is about 15%, in Russia up to 10%).

The project will fill the gap in knowledge and information resources in the Republic about prevention of disability, alternative approaches to child disability. Various trainings based on current needs will improve knowledge and skills of people with disabilities as well as of medical and social professionals. There will be developed or translated and published a number of necessary materials, and a specialised web site on disability issues will be created. A specialised microbus for each centre will connect experts and volunteers with disabled children and their families in the remote areas.

“The project focuses on sustainable development of our partners and the centres, and also on cooperation with local communities, non-governmental organisations and relevant local government agencies.” – underlines Tatyana Buynovskaja, the project manager. – “It includes programs on early intervention and providing advisory and practical support to new families with disabled children.” Tamara Dyikanbaeva, ARDI chairwoman, adds: “The project was developed taking into account the needs and wishes of parents and disabled children, considering provision of complex and versatile support to children and their parents. The project activity is based on social model of disability which recognises, that disability is not an illness (and in the developed countries it was recognised and accepted), and disabled people do not need pity and constant
guardianship, but need possibilities to study, work and communicate to become useful members of society”.

As a result of project activities it is planned to reach out about one and a half thousand parents of disabled children, and these children can participate in joint social events together with other children. It is expected in the end of the project the rehabilitation and resource centres in cooperation with local communities and government agencies will become vital for work with disabled children and their parents, and that this experience can be replicated in other regions.

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Brief information about participants of the project
Partner organisations responsible for implementing the project:

HealthProm – a charitable non-commercial organisation, based in London, works since 1984 with local communities for improving health and social support for vulnerable women and children in the countries of the former Soviet Union (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Tajikistan and recently in Kyrgyzstan). The primary activities of the organisation are social and medical projects. Recently HealthProm has successfully finished similar (to Kyrgyzstan) a 3-year project in Altay region of Russia. Local authorities immediately supported the initiative and provided premises and financing for two centres.

The Association of Parents of Disabled Children (ARDI), Bishkek, established in 1995, gives advisory support to parents of disabled children, and also aspires to realise capabilities of disabled children and youth by their development and integration into society.

Public Association Shoola Kol, Bokonbaevo v. in Issyk-Kul region, is the human rights organisation and engaged in educational activity and raise public awareness. Shoola Kol also advises and educates people with disabilities and helps them establish NGOs for advancement of interests and rights of disabled people.

People who are involved in the project:
* Tatyana Buynovskaya – HealthProm manager, as well as the project manager “Supporting young disabled children and their families in KR”, financed by the Big Lottery Fund.
* Jonathan Watkins – senior project expert, social worker, consultant.
* Mark Hunter – child disability consultant, paediatrician.
* Azat Israilov – in-country project manager in Kyrgyzstan.
* Tamara Dyikanbaeva – Association of Parents of Disabled Children chair, project officer in Bishkek.
* Antonina Lee – Shoola Kol chair, project coordinator in Issyk-Kul region, Bokonbaevo.

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HealthProm visit to Kyrgyzstan to start the project
Under the project funded by the Big Lottery Fund HealthProm delegation of three people (see list above) have visited Kyrgyzstan for meetings with the representatives of government agencies and international and local non-governmental organisations. Between 11 and 23d May, 33 meetings took place in Bishkek and Bokonbaevo, one of them was an interview to the newspaper “Vechernij Bishkek”. In addition HealthProm representatives visited homes of families with disabled children. The results of these meetings will help partners to define the area of specialization for new rehabilitation centres. These centres will work in close interaction with local authorities and government agencies. Currently through consultations with local authorities and additional meetings there is a search for premises for the future centres as one of overall
project objectives is sustainability of the centres.

Young people: new horizons!
The youth of the Association of Parents of Disabled Children is becoming more active in public life of the country, and has also achieved some successes in education. In June this year Seinep Dyikanbaeva, project and PR manager of ARDI, has been named one of the first New Heroes of Kyrgyzstan for the positive contribution to the development of our society, a nomination organised by NGO “Atool” (Karakol). More detailed information can be found at: http://www.atuul.kg/?pid=19&hid=3. In addition, recently Seinep, a first year student of the American University in the Central Asia, has passed through a rigid competitive selection for a year training in Japan, sponsored by the Japanese International Agency on Cooperation (JICA).

Ukei Muratalieva, another active young volunteer of ARDI, a student of the Kyrgyz Technical University, has been chosen together with other two Kyrgyz citizens for another training program on leadership and building networks, also sponsored by the Japanese International Agency on Cooperation (JICA). She leaves for a month for Tokyo to learn how to train and at the same time to learn how local disabled people live and the organisations of disabled people work. After returning home she will conduct a series of trainings and seminars.
Best wishes to them!

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President signed the Law “About the rights and guarantees for persons with disabilities”
President of the Kyrgyz Republic has signed the law “About the rights and guarantees for persons with disabilities”.

This law aims to improve social protection of persons with disabilities, provide them with equal with other citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic possibilities to practice their rights and freedoms, avoid restrictions in their lives.
Source: 24.kg, 12 April 2008

UN adopted the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities
The General Assembly of the United Nations in the beginning of June, 2008 approved the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. It became the first universal international legal document aiming to protect the rights of persons with various kinds of permanent physical, mental, intellectual or sensor limitations. The convention contains 50 articles that protect and encourage the rights of the disabled, decrease discrimination towards them, provide them with rights to work, health services, education and full participation in society life, and also access to justice, inviolability of person, freedom from exploitation and abuse, and freedom of movement.
Source: 24.kg, 16 June 2008

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The new law about social order accepted
The law accepted in the second reading on 5th June this year intends to involve non-commercial organisations in realisation of government social programs through placing on a competitive basis and implementation the government social orders. This will also allow the government to essentially increase the efficiency of implementation of social programs and to involve in social sphere additional human, material and financial resources from non-government sources and it will partially reduce dependence of the non-governmental organisations on foreign funding.

The Minister of labour and social development of the Kyrgyz Republic Uktomkhan Abdullaeva supporting the law, underlined that “now in Kyrgyzstan, some social establishments, children’s homes, boarding schools, houses for aged people opened by the donor funding and the international organisations are on the verge of closing because of the termination of their financing by the foreign organisations. So why can’t we support the efforts of non-governmental organisations and public associations which will render social services to the
population and care for certain number of the aged, homeless children or the disabled who cannot be accommodated in the formal establishments now since there are no places or shortage of funds?”.

Similar laws has been successfully working for a long time in the countries of Europe, in Kazakhstan and 6 federal areas of Russia. Source:
Source: “The third sector” 16 (42), June 2008

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Japanese agency for international cooperation plans to open a centre for people with disabilities
“The Japanese agency for international cooperation (JICA) plans to open in Kyrgyzstan a centre for people with disabilities”, – informed today at a press conference Uktomkhan Abdullaeva, the Minister of labour and social development of KR. According to her, there is the Asian-Pacific centre on problems of the disabled located in Japan. It is going to expand its activities in Central Asia. “After a working visit by Kyrgyz delegation to Japan it decided to open a head office in Kyrgyzstan for the countries of CA. It will bring to the republic additional investments. After the discussion of details of opening of the centre in October 2008 an international conference will take place in which well-known people with disabilities will take part”, – says Uktomkhan Abdullaeva.

As Minister of labour and social development KP emphasizes, such decision was affected by the new law “About the rights and guarantees of people with disabilities” recently passed by the government. “We have excluded articles from it that this category of people cannot work. Their number in workforce should make not less than 5 percent”, – said Uktomhan Abdullaeva.
Source: 24.kg, 22.05.08

Projects on employment for disabled people
We have to break the stereotype that disabled people are defective, said Edward Vinter, the executive director of Eurasia Foundation in Central Asia (EFCA). According to his words, disabled people in Kyrgyzstan are especially vulnerable group of population as being full members of society they simply cannot get a job. Many businessmen, in his opinion, are just confident that the disabled cannot work properly. In this regard, there are now some projects in Kyrgyzstan aiming to render assistance to disabled people in work search. In particular, the Eurasia Foundation in CA together with the Republican independent association of disabled women has
started cooperation with businesses of Bishkek and their management in granting workplaces for disabled people. There will also be a vacancy fair in Bishkek for people with disabilities.

Besides that, today the World Bank and EFCA declared winners of the Program of small grants of 2008 in Kyrgyzstan. “It is intended for the local organisations of a civil society. For 1996-2007 we have given out 121 small grants for a total sum of $315 thousand”, – said the chief executive of Fund Eurasia in the Central Asia Edward Vinter. Thirteen organisations have become winners.
Source: 24.kg

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The Japanese fund of reduction of poverty is intended to support disabled children
The Minister of Education and Science Ishenkul Boldzhurova presented a law providing such a grant recently at a committee meeting on international affairs and inter-parliamentary communications of the parliament of KR. She said, that in 2005 the ministry of education and science requested the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to support children with disabilities. “This project is supported by the Japanese Fund on reduction of poverty which will allocate $1 million, $50 thousands are provided by our government”, – added Ishenkul Boldzhurova.

The minister informed, that in the republic there are now about 19 thousand disabled children of which 250 children study at comprehensive schools in KR, in addition three thousand children study at the special boarding schools.

Ishenkul Boldzhurova noted that grant money will go on preparation of methodical manuals for schools and future teachers for training children with disabilities. According to her, for implementing the future project 35 comprehensive schools all over the country have already been selected – 5 in each region of the country, and also four boarding schools (internats) and two kindergartens.
Source: 24.kg, 15.04.2008

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Children on holiday in Issyk Kul
Thanks to allocated 50 holiday vouchers by the Kyrgyzstan Federation of Trade unions the Association of Parents of Disabled Children organised on 4 – 25 July holiday for members of the Association, including 50 children ith special needs. Children’s recreational centre “Ulan” located near Balykchy accommodated them, and under the HealthProm project “Supporting young disabled children and their families in KR” funded by the Big Lottery Fund transportation expenses for all children have been covered.

The recreational centre can accommodate about 250 people. Besides swimming on lake, there were joint cultural events organised for children, which promoted integration of disabled children with other children, and also promoted tolerance among their peers.

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Grants
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) (Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan) on behalf of the Canadian Foundation announces call for applications for small grants program for Central Asia.

The main areas: poverty reduction, sustainable development, increase participation of women, protection the children’s rights, capacity building for organisations, environment.

The maximum size of a grant is $20,000. The general grant pool is $50,000.

Projects should be short-term ending and presenting a financial report until 1st March 2009. For additional information please write to Anna Zhugan on: Anna. Zhugan@international.gc.ca

Bradley Foundation contests
Bradley Foundation supports: conducting annual events, holding conferences and seminars, purchasing equipment, general support, training, investments related to a project, publications, researches, stipends, development of educational programs.

Applications accepted: 1 March, 1 July, 1 September, 1 December each year.

The size of a grant: from $100 up to $550,000.

Priority areas of support: development of civic sense – projects can be aimed at any sphere of public life (economy, politics, culture, civil society), but they should advance citizenship to the bottom idea of elections and vote. For example, these can be projects showing increased public participation, political or academic research, media projects and others. Building projects and individuals are not financed.

Application procedure can be found at the Fund’s site. Results of selection appear in February, May-June, September and November, depending on application submission. More information can be found at: http://www.bradleyfdn.org/
Source: “the Third sector” 16 (42), June 2008

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This newsletter sent to We Can Do by Azat Israilov. People who wish to receive future issues of this newsletter, in PDF format, via email should inquire by email at aisrail@gmail.com (NOT with We Can Do)

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LISTSERVE: On-line Discussion of Inclusive Education in Eastern Africa

Posted on 24 June 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Children, Cross-Disability, Education, Networking Opportunities, Opportunities, Sub-Saharan Africa Region, youth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Dear Colleagues,
 
To support the growing interest in the area of Inclusive Education throughout Eastern Africa, an Eastern Africa Discussion Group was set up to help facilitate discussions, networking and information sharing on this topic.  This discussion group is associated with EENET – The Enabling Education Network, which is a UK based information sharing network which promotes the inclusion of marginalized groups in education world wide.
 
The initial discussion group that was established was inundated with SPAM.  To overcome this problem the discussion group is now utilizing a Yahoo Group for discussion, which is free of SPAM.
 
If you would like to join the Eastern Africa Discussion Group, please send an email to eenet_eastern_africa-owner@yahoogroups.co.uk stating your interest to join the discussion group.   Or you may also join via the web at http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/eenet_eastern_africa/

If you join and decide later you do not want to be a part of the group any longer, you can unsubscribe at any time.
 
If you know any one else who you think might be interested in joining this group, please pass this message to them so as they have the information necessary to join.
 
Kind Regards,
 
Dimity Taylor
Coordinator
EENET Eastern Africa



Thank you to Dimity Taylor for submitting this announcement to We Can Do.

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Publication Seeks Stories by and about Children, Youth with Disabilities

Posted on 19 June 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Call for Audio & Visual Materials, Call for Papers, Children, Cross-Disability, Opportunities, youth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Disabled Peoples’ International (DPI) is collecting articles related to children with disabilities for its next issue of Disability International. Disability International is an on-line magazine focused on the international disability community that publishes one or two issues each year, in English, Spanish, and French. The following kinds of submissions are welcome:

  • Written pieces and art work by children and youth
  • Stories about what it is like to be a young person with a disability, told in their own words
  • Stories from groups or organizations about a successful project they have done involving children or youth with disabilities. Please include pictures.

Stories should be about 450 words long. The deadline for submissions is July 31, 2008.

Prior issues of Disability International, from 2002 through 2008, can be downloaded for free on-line at http://v1.dpi.org/lang-en/resources/details.php?page=116. Themes for past issues have included: independent living (PDF format, 554 Kb); human rights (PDF format, 463 Kb); invisible disabilities (PDF format, 506 Kb); HIV/AIDS in Africa (PDF format, 1.63 Mb); a special edition on the launch of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in December 2006 (PDF format, 2.5 Mb); another issue on implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007 (PDF format, 2 Mb); and, most recently, disability and the arts (PDF format, 1.5 Mb).

For inquiries, or to submit stories and pictures for the next issue, please contact Cassandra at Disabled Peoples’ International at info@dpi.org.



We Can Do first learned about DPI’s search for stories by or about children and youth with disabilities through the DPI weekly electronic newsletter. Thank you to Cassandra for supplying additional details about the guidelines for Disability International.

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EENET Recruiting Steering Group Members to Promote Inclusive Education

Posted on 10 June 2008. Filed under: Call for Nominations or Applications, Children, Cross-Disability, Education, Inclusion, Opportunities, Volunteer Opportunities, youth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Please note that applications should be directed to EENET, not to We Can Do; read carefully for links, email address, and instructions. The deadline is June 24, 2008.

EENET steering group: user group representatives

Background to EENET’s Steering Group
The Enabling Education Network (EENET) is a global information network that helps education practitioners and stakeholders to document and share their experiences of inclusive, child-friendly education. The network prioritises the information needs of southern countries. It aims to reach those who are often excluded from other international information systems or debates, or who cannot afford to buy information resources. EENET’s users include local and international Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), teachers, parents, students, government officials, academics, etc.

EENET has a very small co-ordination office in the UK, employing one staff member and a few volunteers, but still manages to support the information needs of thousands of people in 200 countries. Independent regional networks, based on EENET’s vision and mission, are also being developed in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

To find out more about EENET’s information sharing activities visit www.eenet.org.uk; email info@eenet.org.uk; or write to EENET, c/o ESI, School of Education, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK

EENET’s role is to champion inclusive education. But it also seeks to challenge the status quo, to ask difficult questions and encourage debates on controversial topics. To ensure that EENET fulfils this role, and continues to meet the information needs of its diverse target audience, the network has a Steering Group which has not been very active for several years, but is now being reformed.

EENET Steering Group function and role of members

  • The Steering Group will monitor EENET’s activities and makes suggestions for changes.
  • Steering Group members will represent the views of EENET’s founders, its regional networking partners, international NGOs/donors, and, very importantly, its target users.
  • Steering Group members will assist EENET staff with taking action in key areas of EENET’s development (e.g. fundraising) if they have skills and experience in a relevant area.

User group representatives
Two or three Steering Group representatives will be appointed from among EENET’s ‘grassroots’ users. While they will not be able to represent the full diversity of EENET’s users, they will bring to the Steering Group a valuable ‘reality check’ on the needs, challenges and potential contributions of EENET’s users.

These ‘grassroots’ Steering Group representatives will be selected based on the following criteria:

Essential

  • Good communication skills, preferably in English.
  • Able to communicate by email, and also if possible by telephone or using internet phone or chat systems.
  • Able to travel to the UK and other countries (e.g. must have a passport, or be able to obtain a passport and travel visas without difficulties).
  • Enthusiasm about the aims, values and principles of EENET, and a commitment to contributing as fully as possible to the Steering Group.

One or more of the following are desired:

    Awareness of:
  • child rights
  • education issues
  • disability and/or other diversity issues
  • community development issues.
  • First hand experience of inclusive education (as a student, teacher, parent, local education official, teacher trainer, etc).
  • Experience of being an activist or in other ways representing a marginlised, discriminated against or excluded group (e.g. women/girls; disabled people; refugees; working children, etc).
  • Awareness of EENET and/or an active member of EENET’s network.
  • Awareness of and/or an active member of other south-based, south-focused information sharing and advocacy networks.
  • Financial issues
    Steering Group members are unpaid volunteers. There is no salary for being a Steering Group member. However, EENET will cover all costs relating to attending meetings (e.g. travel, accommodation, meals and other essential daily living expenses) and participating in telephone conferences or internet chats.

    Application to become an EENET Steering Group member

    Closing date for applications: 24th June 2008

    Personal details
    Name:
    Nationality:
    Postal address:
    Tel. no:
    Fax no:
    Mobile no:
    Email:
    Other, e.g. Skype name:

    Do you have a passport?

    Are you aware of any possible restrictions to your freedom to travel to other countries?

    Are you available 8-12 September 2008 (the dates for the next Steering Group meeting)?

    Supporting information
    Describe your involvement with EENET so far (e.g. when did you first learn about EENET; when did you first read the newsletter; what communication have you had with EENET; what other EENET activities have you been involved in?)

    Why are you interested in becoming a member of EENET’s Steering Group?

    Explain any experience you have with the following (this can be experience gained through your personal life or through work):

    • education/inclusive education
    • child rights/human rights
    • community development
    • equality and diversity issues.

    Explain what you think inclusive education means.

    Why do you think it is important for EENET to promote inclusive education and help people to share information on inclusive education?

    Please provide any other information you think will support your application.

    References
    Please supply the names and contact details of 2 people who can provide references for you. At least one referee should know you in a professional or work capacity or have direct experience of your involvement in inclusive education activities/advocacy.

    Referee 1
    Name:
    Address:
    Email:
    Tel:
    Fax:

    Referee 2
    Name:
    Address:
    Email:
    Tel:
    Fax:
    Please return your completed form to:
    Email: info@eenet.org.uk
    Address: EENET, c/o ESI, School of Education, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK
    Fax: +44 (0)161 275 3548



    We Can Do received this announcement via the EENET Eastern Africa listserv. Again, applications should please be directed to EENET in accordance to the instructions above, NOT to We Can Do. Thank you.

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    International Conference: Inclusive Education, the Way of the Future

    Posted on 2 June 2008. Filed under: Announcements, Children, Cross-Disability, Education, Events and Conferences, Inclusion, Opportunities, Reports, youth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    The International Bureau of Education is holding its 48th session of the International Conference on Education (ICE) this 25 – 28 November 2008 in Geneva, Switzerland. The theme will be “Inclusive Education: the Way of the Future.”

    The International Conference on Education is usually predominantly tailored for the needs of Ministers of Education who represent country governments around the world. However, other partners such as researchers, practitioners, representatives of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations also participate in the ICE dialogue.

    Debates at the November 2008 session of ICE are expected to focus on the following themes:

    (i) approaches, scope and content (to broaden the understanding of the theory and the practice of inclusive education);
    (ii) public policies (to demonstrate the role of governments in the development and the implementation of policies on inclusive education);
    (iii) systems, links and transitions (to create inclusive education systems which offer opportunities for lifelong learning);
    (iv) learners and teachers (to foster a learning environment where teachers are equipped to meet the learners’ diverse expectations and needs).

    As of this writing (June 2, 2008), I could not locate registration information at the ICE conference web site. However, even for people unable to attend the November conference, the web site still offers an abundance of materials that may be of interest to people involved in the education field.

    If you scroll down the page at the ICE conference site, you will see a listing of past Preparatory Meetings on Inclusive Education. Many of these include links to Executive Summaries or other reports based on the results of these past meetings. Further down the page, you will see links to reports from Working Groups of the International Bureau of Education Council regarding planning for the 48th ICE conference.

    For further (or upcoming) details on the November 2008 conference on Inclusive Education, please consult their web site directly at

    http://www.ibe.unesco.org/International/ICE48/English/index.html

    Let me please amplify that We Can Do is unable to respond to individual inquiries about this or any other event, toolkit, funding source, or other resource publicized at this site. Instead, please follow the above link.



    I first learned about this conference by browsing the Dutch Coalition on Disability and Development web site.

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    REPORT Education’s Missing Millions: Including Disabled Children

    Posted on 23 May 2008. Filed under: Children, Cross-Disability, Education, Inclusion, Reports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    There are 77 million children around the world who have never entered a primary school classroom. Most are from poor families in developing countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. And, according to a recent report (PDF format, 1.2 Mb), one-third of them have disabilities.

    This is an enormous proportion when you consider that the World Health Organization estimates that only about 10 percent of the overall world population are people with disabilities. The World Bank has estimated that possibly as many as 15 to 20 percent of the world’s poorest people have disabilities. But even by this estimate, children with disabilities are still disproportionately represented among primary-school-aged children who are not in school.

    So, what can be done to address this challenge? A recent 74-page report, Education’s Missing Millions: including disabled children in education through EFA FTI processes and national sector plans (PDF format, 1.2 Mb), explores this question. Education’s Missing Millions was funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) through a Partnership Programme Agreement with World Vision UK.

    Country governments and international donors have been working together on the Education For All Fast Track Initiative (FTI) to put all primary-school aged children into a classroom by the year 2015. This goal cannot possibly be met until disabled children, too, are able to obtain an education. Education’s Missing Millions (PDF format, 1.2 Mb)
    analyzes education sector plans that the FTI has endorsed in 28 countries to examine how well they include children with disabilities.

    Some efforts have taken place to include disabled children in education in some of these countries. However, Education’s Missing Millions (PDF format, 1.2 Mb) still identifies many gaps that must be addressed. For example, many countries do not even have data on how many of their children have disabilities. Also, few countries have explored how they can use funding mechanisms or incentives to support the inclusion of children with disabilities. And countries often do not work as closely as they could with parents, communities, or non-government organizations (NGOs).

    Education’s Missing Millions (PDF format, 1.2 Mb) calls upon FTI partners to actively target children with disabilities to ensure that they, too, can obtain a free, good-quality education. The report makes a series of recommendations for pragmatic ways in which country governments and donors can promote dialogue about policies and practices within the FTI Partnership; act as a “champion” for inclusion; and close gaps in data, policy, capacity, and financing that would otherwise exclude disabled children.

    Both grassroots advocates and policy makers may be interested in the 8th chapter, on local community and NGO initiatives. This chapter presents examples of projects that helped promote the inclusion of a wider number of disabled children in the classroom and their communities.

    You can download the full report, Education’s Missing Millions, in PDF format (1.2 Mb) at:

    http://www.worldvision.org.uk/upload/pdf/Education%27s_Missing_Millions_-_Main_Report.pdf

    People interested in education for children with disabilities in general may also be interested in reading about a report on the human rights approach to Education For All (EFA). Or you might be interested in joining a network on inclusive education in Eastern Africa; this is an email discussion group that allows you to exchange ideas and information with other people via email.



    We Can Do found Education’s Missing Millions (PDF format, 1.2 Mb) by browsing the <a href=”http://www.AskSource.infoAskSource.info database on disability, health, and development.

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    REPORT: Promoting the Rights of Children with Disabilities

    Posted on 5 March 2008. Filed under: Children, Cross-Disability, Human Rights, Reports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    The Innocenti Research Center at UNICEF has released an Innocenti Digest on Promoting the Rights of Children with Disabilities (PDF format, 875 Kb). The 80-page publication examines the situation of 200 million children with disabilities around the world and identifies ways to promote their human rights.

    The digest particularly focuses on two relevant international human rights treaties: the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). It is written from the social model perspective, which acknowledges that many of the barriers that prevent disabled people from participating in society are in the environment and not inherent to the impairment.

    Promoting the Rights of Children with Disabilities (PDF format, 875 Kb) gives an overview of the difference between “inclusion” and “integration”; the social model of disability; the numbers of children with disabilities; disability and poverty.

    A section on International Standards and Mechanisms explains the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC); UN Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities; and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The digest examines the specific implications of each of these instruments for protecting the rights of children with disabilities. It also briefly discusses the Millennium Development Goals.

    The chapter on The Human Rights of Children with Disabilities Today describes the different ways that both direct and indirect discrimination and exclusion push children with disabilities away from health, rehabilitation, and educational services and into poverty and institutions. This chapter explains how the CRC and the CRPD can be used to improve access to the services children with disabilities need to stay out of poverty and stay with their own family in the community where they live. Special attention is given to violence, abuse, and exploitation, and to children with disabilities in conflict (war) and emergency situations.

    The chapter on Foundations for Inclusion makes recommendations for how to promote the inclusion of children with disabilities within families, within communities, and at school.

    The chapter, Ensuring a Supportive Environment, makes recommendations for relevant policy and legislation, budget allocation, monitoring, and international and regional partnerhsips. It emphasizes the need for working with people with disabilities, for raising public awareness, and changing attitudes toward people with disabilities.

    The appendix lists international organizations involved with disability issues, either as their main focus or as one sub-specializalization. The full text of the CRPD is also provided.

    The full report can be downloaded in PDF format (875 Kb) at:

    http://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/digest13-disability.pdf



    This blog article is cross-posted at both We Can Do and RatifyNow with permission of author.

    We Can Do learned about this publication through browsing the World Bank disability page.

    Learn how to receive an email alert when new material is posted at We Can Do (wecando.wordpress.com).



    Also at We Can Do: catch up with the news; explore resources, toolkits, or funding and fellowship opportunities that might be helpful for your organization; find research, reports, papers, or statistics; or look up conferences, events, call for papers, or education/training opportunities.



    This blog post is copyrighted to We Can Do (wecando.wordpress.com). Currently, only two web sites have on-going permission to syndicate (re-post) We Can Do blog posts: BlogAfrica.com and www.RatifyNow.org. Other sites are most likely plagiarizing this post without permission.

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    REPORT: Human-Rights Approach to Education for All

    Posted on 30 January 2008. Filed under: Children, Cross-Disability, Education, Human Rights, Reports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has released a report on a human rights based approach to making education accessible to all children, entitled A Human Rights-Based Approach to Education for All: A framework for the realization of children’s right to education and rights within education (PDF format, 812 Kb). The report discusses current thinking and practice on human rights based approaches in the education sector. It presents key issues and challenges in rights-based approaches and provides a framework for developing policies and programs at the school, local, national, or international levels. It is targeted particularly at governments, civil society organizations, United Nations and bilateral agencies, and other development partners.

    This report touches briefly on issues affecting disabled children in education throughout. A search for the word “disabilities” finds multiple short references in the text. For example, there is a mention of such issues as the fact that the birth of some children–but particularly disabled children–may not be registered in some countries, making it more difficult to accurately estimate the need for schooling. And the report asserts that attention must be paid to the communication needs of children with sensory impairments (Braille for blind students; sign language for deaf students).

    There are some disappointments here. For instance, the introduction has the usual discussion of the 77 million children who are currently out of school but misses an opportunity to point out that disabled children are disproportionately represented among them. But the integration of disability related concerns into a broader discussion of educational issues is itself an important step in the right direction. Especially positive is seeing disability issues integrated into a report like this one that emphasizes education as a human right for all children–including children with disabilities.

    The report can be downloaded in PDF format (812 Kb) at:

    http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001548/154861E.pdf



    We Can Do learned about this report via the Disabled People’s International on-line newsletter. DPI’s newsletter can be subscribed to, via email, for free.



    Find more Research, reports, or papers, or find more blog posts like this one on children, education, or humanrights.

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    RESOURCE: Books for Healthier People, Happier Children

    Posted on 16 January 2008. Filed under: Blind, Children, Cross-Disability, Deaf, Health, Resources, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    [Originally published at wecando.wordpress.com (We Can Do) at http://tinyurl.com/2b23c5]

    If you’re sick, and you’re in an industrialized country with a health insurance system that meets your needs reasonably well, then you go to the doctor. Or if you are a parent who has just found out that your child is deaf or blind, you turn to professionals for advice and services.

    But sometimes there is no doctor. And there are no professionals. If you’re poor; if you have no medical insurance; if you’re in a remote rural area; if the nearest doctor, clinic, or rehabilitation center is three days away on the back of a donkey, then you’re on your own.

    Books cannot replace good-quality, affordable medical care from professionals. Nor can they replace blind adults who can teach your child Braille, or deaf adults who can teach your family sign language. But the right kind of books can still save lives. And books can guide parents and community members in helping integrate their disabled children into the family and community.

    That’s where the Hesperian Foundation comes in. The Hesperian Foundation is a non-profit organization that publishes books and educational materials. People in developing countries around the world use publications from the Hesperian Foundation to help them understand how to take better care of their own
    health and how to raise disabled children. These books are written in simple language with many pictures that can be understood by people with basic literacy skills. Some have been translated into Spanish. A few have also been translated into other languages, such as Chinese or Vietnamese.

    Their most famous book is Where There is No Doctor, also available in its Spanish edition, Donde no hay doctor.

    Many of their books can be downloaded for free, one chapter at a time, from Hesperian’s on-line library in PDF format. Other books can be purchased.

    Don’t have enough money to buy the books you need to save lives or guide parents in your community? Not satisfied with downloading books for free onto your computer? Discounts may be available, under certain conditions, for people in developing countries. A limited number of print books may be available, for free, to some health workers and community leaders in developing countries, through the Gratis Books program.

    Free books of particular interest to people with disabilities, their families, and the professionals who work with them, include: A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities; Helping Children Who are Deaf; Helping Children Who are Blind (in English); and the Spanish edition of the same book, Ayudar a los ninos ciegos. People can also purchase Disabled Village Children; or the Spanish edition of the same book, El nino campesino deshabilitado.

    If you wish to download a free book or book chapter, you can proceed to the Hesperian on-line library at http://www.hesperian.org/publications_download.php#wwd.

    If you wish to purchase a book or multiple publications, you can review the full list of products at http://www.hesperian.org/mm5/merchant.mvc?Store_Code=HB&Screen=PLST.

    Have any questions about how to order a book, or how to get a discount for people in developing countries? You may find it helpful to consult the book order FAQ at http://www.hesperian.org/publications_faq.php.

    Inquiries about ordering books or obtaining discount prices can be directed to the Hesperian Foundation store at bookorders@hesperian.org.



    The information provided in this post was gathered by exploring the Hesperian Foundation web site. Any inquiries should be directed to the Hesperian Foundation.



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    RESOURCE, NEWS: Making the XO Laptop Accessible

    Posted on 5 January 2008. Filed under: Children, Cross-Disability, Education, News, Resources | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    If you’ve seen the media hype about it, then you know that the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project wants to put a low-cost laptop into the hands of every child in primary schools in developing countries. The idea is to give children a tool for taking their own education into their own hands so they will learn more. Now people on an email list called “accessibility”, and people in the on-line wiki community, are working on ways to ensure that these laptops will be more accessible and usable for children with disabilities.

    In November, I wrote an opinion piece about the XO Laptop project. Basically I said I thought it was a great concept. And I still think that–in fact, I have now bought one of the XO laptops for myself through a short-term “Get one, Give one” program that ended in December 2007. One laptop is being shipped to me (meaning, no, it hasn’t arrived yet). Another laptop is being shipped to a child in a developing country somewhere. But I had, and still have, concerns about its accessibility for disabled children. And I find it disappointing that OLPC has not made it a stronger, and clearer, priority to make it usable by children with various vision, mobility, and other impairments.

    But the good news is that an on-line community exists for people who want to help make the XO laptop more accessible to children with disabilities in developing countries. Specifically, the Accessibility mailing list at:

    http://lists.laptop.org/listinfo/accessibility

    And there is also a “wiki” web site devoted to accessibility issues for the XO laptop. A “wiki” site enables people from around the world to collaborate with each other, via the web, on a common goal. In this case, the wiki laptop accessibility community enables people with the needed technical skills to work together to make the XO laptop more usable for users with disabilities. Start here to see a list of specific problems that have been identified with the XO for children with various disabilities:

    http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Accessibility

    Both on-line communities appear to be relatively small. But both would surely welcome new members with fresh energy and ideas. People with disabilities could share feedback about the features they need that would make the XO more accessible to them. If you have an XO of your own, you could play around with it to identify accessibility barriers that need more work. This is especially important if you discover that the barriers you identify, or the ideas you have for fixing it, have not already been listed at the wiki community page.

    Even better: if you have an XO, and you know a disabled child, you could watch them while they try out all the different features of the XO. Ask them for their reactions, and observe where they run into problems. Share the results with the on-line community.

    And, of course, if you have computer design, programming, or other relevant skills, then maybe you could help develop a way to improve the XO. And not just in terms of software. Also think about the needs of children with mobility impairments who might have trouble physically operating the XO as it is currently designed.

    Before becoming active in the on-line OLPC accessibility discussion/brainstorming groups, you may wish to browse through the archives of past discussions:

    http://lists.laptop.org/pipermail/accessibility/



    Thank you to the anonymous individual who left a comment at my opinion essay to alert me to the mailing list on XO accessibility.



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    OPINION: One Laptop per Child—But is it Inclusive?

    Posted on 16 November 2007. Filed under: Children, Cross-Disability, Education, Opinion, technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    The Issue
    Bringing laptops to children in developing countries. It’s a nifty concept, meant to help with an enormous challenge: improving the quality of education in developing countries. But is it inclusive of children with disabilities?

    Even relatively casual observers of the international development field quickly learn that 77 million children worldwide are not in primary school. And perhaps you also knew that a large portion of those children have disabilities. What we don’t hear about as often is that even the 2 billion children who are fortunate enough to be able to enter a classroom, in many cases, may not be that much better off. The push to put all children in school by 2015, as per the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), has led to more schools, more teachers, and more books—but not necessarily to a better-quality education. So how do we go beyond filling seats with bodies so we can start filling heads with knowledge?

    The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project thinks they have part of the answer. That’s to put a laptop into the hands of every child in school in developing nations. Not just any laptop, but the XO laptop. The XO is designed specifically for child learners. It has features that allow them to create—be it a picture, a poem, a game, or a computer program. And XO laptops can communicate directly with other XO laptops if they are close enough. That allows for collaborative projects among pairs or groups of students. The laptops are also designed to be used in rugged conditions. They can be used in places where classes might meet outside in bright sunlight, or where students may have no access to electricity.

    In developing countries, one of the largest barriers to obtaining resources—be it for disabled people or for their non-disabled peers—is cost. The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project has tackled this, at least part way, by producing a laptop that costs $200. That’s twice as much as their original goal—which was to design a $100 laptop. And that’s still out of reach for any family that lives on less than $1 a day. But it’s within reach for some country governments. Uruguay, for example, has purchased the first 100,000 XOs to come off the assembly line (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7068084.stm). And there may soon be other countries standing in line. The OLPC project has also introduced several ways that people in rich countries can help (see http://www.laptopgiving.org/en/index.php). If things grow quickly from here, we could soon see the day when millions of children are learning through XO laptops and any competitors that might later emerge.

    But for children with disabilities, the question of whether someone can and will send them a laptop in the first place is only the first half of the problem. The second half is whether the laptop is even accessible to them.

    XO Laptops: Are They Suitable for Young Disabled Students?
    I should note here that I have not yet seen an XO laptop for myself. Nor am I an expert in the types of adaptations that are available or most needed by people who are blind, or who have mobility impaired—or, indeed, any disability other than deafness. That means I can’t give an accurate evaluation of how usable an XO laptop is for disabled children. But I can speculate. And given how large the OLCP project hopes to become, I suggest that anyone with an interest in educating disabled children in developing countries should also be speculating. More importantly, they should be sharing their insights and ideas for remedies with the OLPC project.

    On the plus side, some disabled children may find that the laptops will be a tremendous boon for them. For example, the XO is sturdier and more durable than most standard, western computers. That could be an important feature for children whose disabilities affect their behavior. They might be less likely to damage the laptop if they throw it during a tantrum or a “meltdown”, for example. Or a child with mobility impairments or dyspraxia can worry less if they drop their laptop.

    Also, I like how the XO laptop allows for interactive communication with other laptop users. For children who have communication-related disabilities and who have learned to read and write, it might make communication with their non-disabled peers a little easier. Instead of being forced to talk or read lips in a modality that works poorly for them–if at all–they could have the option of typing back and forth with their classmates or the teacher. This could be especially helpful in situations where no sign language interpreter is available, which is frequently the case in developing countries. I don’t think the XO will ever be a substitute for more appropriate educational placements. (I believe that most deaf children should be in good quality, specialized schools for deaf children. But that’s a subject for another blog post.) But for deaf children who have been thrust into classrooms with no means of understanding their teacher, the laptop could potentially become a tool for teaching themselves, perhaps with the aid of their peers.

    But even deaf children, if they are learning alongside hearing peers, may feel left out when their classmates start playing around with the built-in microphone and other auditory-based features. And other disabled children may find the XO laptops to be so inaccessible as to be useless. I suspect that blind children and some children with low vision—as with most computers generally—may suffer the most significant barriers. From what I can gather from their web site, the XO seems to have a very visual interface. That’s great for sighted deaf children, but bad for blind children. There seems to be no provision for screen readers of any kind: a blind child could still type but would have no way to monitor what they are typing or to read it back later. And unless there is some audio feature that I didn’t read about, the heavy graphics would be meaningless to them. That might make it harder for a child with vision impairments to interact with other students in the class. If I understand correctly, a child who wants to work on a project with someone else through the XO needs to bring up an icon representing their classmate and click it.

    I also wonder about children with certain mobility impairments, particularly those that affect the use of their hands. As far as I can tell from the OLPC web site, there are no modified keyboards available. In other words, one design fits all—even when it doesn’t. And it’s not just the keyboard that might pose a problem. One of the ways to power up an XO is to either pull on a cord or operate a foot pump—either of which might be problematic for children with certain mobility impairments. What if a child could operate one type of battery re-charger but not the other? If a country buys all of its laptops in one variety, a child may not have the option of switching to equipment that is more usable for them.

    Why Inclusion Matters–From the Beginning
    Children with disabilities already face enormous barriers in even reaching the classroom. And many face even more barriers inside it. The XO laptop is meant to help bring the world of learning to poor children in developing nations. But for many children with disabilities, the XO laptop, as currently designed, may create new barriers to learning instead of removing them. What is especially worrying to me is that nowhere in their web site does OLPC even acknowledge the problem much less discuss what they’re doing to resolve it. (Or if they do and I missed it, tell me in the comments area below—their site is at www.laptop.org.)

    The usual excuse made when a new project excludes disabled people, is, “But we’re new. We’re just starting. We had to start somewhere. We’re not ready for doing anything more specialized right now.” There are two major problems with accepting this type of excuse. First is the issue of justice. People with disabilities have always been the last people to gain access to any new technology or service. As soon as one technology is finally made at least partly accessible, something new has become mainstream to everyone else—but, once again, not for disabled people. By the time innovative deaf people in rich countries finally managed to invent a way to access telephones, for example, all their hearing, middle-class neighbors had color television–while deaf people were, once again, waiting. The delay between the time a new technology or service becomes available to non-disabled people and the time it becomes available to disabled people, in and of itself, creates barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating fully in society. There will always be something new. And, even with advancing medical technology, there will probably always be disabled people. We will only be fully included in society when new things, too, are accessible to us from the first day they become available to the public at wide. After all, aren’t we, too, supposed to be members of the public?

    The second problem with accepting the “but it’s new, give us time” excuse is that this is backwards thinking. It is PRECISELY BECAUSE a technology or project is new that the people designing it SHOULD be thinking from the start about the needs of people with disabilities. Suppose you construct a building with stairs and no ramps, then you tear part of it down in order to add the ramps years later, that’s expensive. If you remember the needs of people with disabilities while you’re still working in the blueprint stage then you can make sure it has ramps to begin with, and you can integrate the ramps into the design in a way that saves money. That’s very, very cheap. If you build 100,000 computers for Uruguay with no screen readers, and then belatedly construct a few separate devices to be attached to them later as needed, that’s expensive.

    But what if they had given consideration to the needs of blind or dyslexic students, or children with other disabilities, from the beginning? Yes, it probably would have been an enormous challenge to find a way to integrate their needs into the standard design of the XO laptop without significantly increasing its cost. But if they had at least tried—even if they had tried and failed—then if nothing else, we could have been a good five years of research and development closer to achieving an XO that does succeed in including disabled children. And not only that, but it might have been cheaper than whatever add-on fix they come up with now. Or, even if they hadn’t come up with a concept that could be integrated into the standard design, they might at least have come up with design elements that make it easier to add on a fix later. What if they come up with a nice, cheap screen reader, only to find that there isn’t a good way to plug it into the existing XO laptops?

    Or perhaps they could have come up with creative design elements that help, not only disabled students, but everyone. After all, curb cuts were implemented for wheelchair riders, but were quickly embraced by non-disabled parents with prams or baby carriages. Closed captions were invented to enable deaf people in rich countries to watch television, but have also been embraced by hearing immigrants learning the language of their new home. Speech recognition software for computers was invented, at least in part, for people who cannot type with their hands, but has been embraced by others as well. What kind of XO would we have had today if they hadn’t thrown away five years of opportunity to find out?

    Owning the Issue
    Two groups of people need take responsibility for ensuring that the built in exclusion of disabled children in developing countries does not last. First are the people operating the One Laptop Per Child project. If they’re serious about bringing laptops to all two billion children in school, then they would do well to remember that about 10 percent of the world’s population—including children in developing countries—have disabilities. They need to decide whether “all” will truly mean “all,” or if “all” really means “all except disabled children because they’re too difficult to include.”

    The obligation doesn’t end with the One Laptop Per Child project, but it does begin with them: they need to be proactive. To start with, they should reach out to organizations of disabled adults and children in developing countries to share the laptop with them and find out exactly what problems they face in using it. They can begin with some of the organizations listed in “Finding Local Disability Organizations” for possible contacts. They should be talking with disabled adults, because people who have already been adapting to their own disabilities for a whole lifetime often see obvious solutions that elude everybody else. And they should be talking with parents and teachers who may notice barriers that even disabled users miss. But most importantly of all, they should be talking with disabled children in developing countries—because the best person to tell us what a disabled child needs is a disabled child.

    Also, they should mention the problem of accessibility for children with disabilities throughout their web site, where appropriate. In particular, where they recruit volunteers, they should be specifically asking for people who can help make the laptop more usable for children with a wide range of disabilities. But even in other parts of their web site, for example where they talk about its design features and their future design plans, they can acknowledge its existing limitations and explain how they hope to overcome them. Possibly they could also have a separate page devoted to the topic of accessibility—but this is not a substitute for integration. “Add-on” issues rarely get the attention they deserve: if it’s important, then the organization’s concern for the issue should reverberate through everything they say and do.

    Second are people around the world who are already committed to bringing more disabled children in developing countries into the classroom and giving them a high-quality education. That means parents, educators, disabled advocates, non-government organizations (NGOs) and other interested parties. People who have direct experience with the XO laptop can give their feedback to the One Laptop Per Child project. Others can review their web site and offer their advice or consultation services.

    I think the One Laptop Per Child program is a good concept and a good cause worth supporting—even with its current flaws. That’s exactly why I urge them to become a more inclusive cause as well. I hope they listen—and take action.

    Nicholas Negroponte and the other staff at OLPC: it’s over to you, now.


    The facts, figures, and information behind the opinions expressed in this essay come from a range of sources. Most particularly I drew upon the OLPC web site, but you will also note that I link to a number of other sources throughout this article.

    Edited 17 Nov. ’07 to add: Eduardo Silva points out (thank you for alerting me) that interested readers can go to http://wiki.laptop.org to see some of the software work that is being done to improve the XO laptop. And as Eduardo Silva indicates, they are indeed working on a text-to-voice screen reader, which you can read about at http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Screen_Reader. However, I still have some concerns about this which I elaborate upon further in the comments area below.

    Edited 31 Dec. ’07 to add: I wonder if a Sightsaver’s Dolphin Pen would help blind children make better use of the XO. Is there anyone reading this who is familiar with BOTH the XO AND with the Dolphin Pen (a low-cost screen reader and screen magnifier designed for use in low-income countries)? If so, I would value your input. Please do comment in the comments area below.

    Edited 5 Jan. ’08 to add: THANK YOU to the anonymous contributer in the comments area below who led me to the accessibility mailing list for people who want to brainstorm ideas and solutions on how to make the XO more accessible.


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