How can we overcome issues of access to digital learning for primary school learners with disabilities in LMICs during Covid-19?
In these times of COVID- 19, issues of access to digital learning for primary school learners in low and middle income countries (LMICs) has gained much attention. Primary school learners with disabilities in LMICs are most likely to face barriers to accessing digital learning or least likely to benefit from it. These barriers to education contribute to the increased risk of poverty for people with disabilities. Digital learning (Educational technology) offers the potential to enable continuing education generally for LMICs in the response to school closures and beyond it. Some LMICs have put in place measures to ensure learning continues by introducing virtual learning platforms and e-learning resources across all the levels of education, and as well organising lessons on television and radio. As LMICs work to make digital learning more accessible to all, this brief reports on evidence based approaches to promoting the inclusion of primary school learners with disabilities.
- The content of digital learning resources should be relevant to the diverse needs of primary school learners with disabilities in LMICs.
- Data connectivity and affordability should be improved for primary school learners with disabilities in LMICs.
- Introduce clear guidelines for coordinating disability-inclusive digital learning in primary schools using multiple delivery channels.
- Invest in research on access to and the effectiveness of blended learning (digital instructions and non-digital packages) for primary school learners with disabilities.
What works to eliminate stigma as a barrier to educational outcomes for children and youth with disabilities?
To improve educational outcomes for children and youth with disabilities, barriers to inclusion need to be addressed. Experiences of stigma represent a significant and common barrier facing children and youth with disabilities and this may vary by type and severity of disability. Stigmatisation is a societal process found within communities at individual, interpersonal, organisational, social and institutional levels. Information on approaches to, as well as impact of interventions that address stigma in the context of children and youth with disability in LMIC is generally lacking. The widespread detrimental consequences of stigma related to disability highlight the need for interventions aimed at reducing this stigma. This brief aims to summarise the stigma-reduction interventions (that either reduce or prevent stigma) relating to disability that improve educational outcomes for children and youth with disabilities in LMIC.
- Active involvement of children and youth with disabilities and caregivers in the development, delivery and testing of stigma-reduction interventions
- Multi-level and evidence-based stigma-reduction interventions in LMIC addressing a wide variety of stigma need to be developed.
- Stronger evaluation of promising multi-level stigma-reduction interventions adapted towards children and youth with disabilities in LMICs.
- Educators to be trained in the detection and delivery of appropriate stigma-reduction intervention strategies for children and youth with disabilities.
What evidence is there for the benefits of flexible and adaptive curricula in inclusive education?
Promoting inclusive education, underpinned by the acknowledgement that every child has the right to a quality education - is a challenge globally, but even more so in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) where many schools struggle with clashing priorities due to limited funds and resources. Flexible and adaptive curricula, often referred to as curriculum modification strategies, are one of the key components of including and engaging students with disabilities in the educational systems. These modifications make regular curricula more responsive to the diverse needs of children with special educational needs by including targeted content and methods for teaching. There are a variety of challenges facing students, parents, teachers and schools when attempting to achieve and benefit from adapted curricula as well as accessing, the evidence for which will be presented and outlined below including recommendations to overcome these challenges.
- Adapt curricula and teaching methods to facilitate inclusive education
- Community awareness raising to break down negative perceptions.
- Generate greater awareness of assistive technology and its benefits among teachers, students and parents.
- Make assistive technology affordable and develop a knowledge base
- Adaptations of minor characteristics of certain sports
How to implement classroom assistance for children with disabilities in LMICs?
Classroom assistance can be defined as reasonable accommodations designed to give all students equal access to learning in a regular classroom setting. Classroom assistance enables learners with disabilities to continue 'access to learning’ and 'learning to access' education on a regular basis. Consequently, in addition to enabling access to learning, classroom assistance should support learners with disabilities to take ownership of their learning and self-advocate during the learning process. While there is a lack of consensus on what classroom assistance comprises, there are three core dimensions: a) people (e.g. pupils, teaching staff, and administrators or non-teaching staff), b) classroom teaching and learning media (e.g. assistive technologies, gaming, etc) and c) the support structure (e.g. family, friends, peers, and cohorts). This brief summarises how to implement classroom assistance to promote effective teaching and learning for pupils with disabilities in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs).
- Consult and engage learners with disabilities, their caregivers and teachers in designing, implementing and evaluating classroom assistance for inclusive learning
- Adopt a multi-stakeholder approach for collaboration, working jointly towards making classrooms more accessible.
- Consider how classroom assistance policies and programmes are impacted by intersecting social factors and how they can cater and be sustained for a diverse range of impairment types in LMICs.
- Generate scientific knowledge to inform policymakers and implementers on how to optimise the benefits of classroom assistance in low-resources settings.
What programmes are needed to improve self-esteem among young people with disabilities?
Due to negative societal attitudes and ableist norms, young people with disabilities may be at risk of low self-esteem. Low self-esteem, aside from being unpleasant to experience, is associated with social isolation, low mood, and poor educational outcomes. Building positive self-esteem is critical for young people to reach their full developmental potential, and so identifying interventions that work to improve self-esteem among young people with disabilities is important. However, information on programmes that work to improve self-esteem, especially in low-and-middle income counties (LMICs), is lacking. There is a need for programming to improve self-esteem and build confidence which takes into account disability as well as personal and environmental factors of young people.
- Develop self-esteem interventions which accommodate people with a range of impairments and take into account the personal and environmental contexts of young people with disabilities in LMICs.
- Implement evidence-based self-esteem interventions in LMICs that are flexible, promote active participation, and provide opportunities for recreation and enjoyment for young people with disabilities
- Engage in rigorous research to test the effectiveness of self-esteem interventions, with a focus on understanding effects on people with different types of impairment.
- Explore innovative ways to include caregivers and teachers in programming, and expand reach, including through inclusive digital platforms.
Teaching reading comprehension strategies to students with learning disabilities: A review of research
- Peer-reviewed article
Effects of inclusion on students with and without special educational needs reviewed
- Peer-reviewed article
Bullying Perpetration and Victimization in Special Education: A Review of the Literature
- Peer-reviewed article
Resilience-building with disabled children and young people: A review and critique of the academic evidence base
- Peer-reviewed article