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An introduction to technology for inclusive education – motivation and key principles of digital resource authoring. This presentation was given on 25 March 2013, as part of the Teach @ Dundee induction event for new teaching staff at Dundee University.

The EC funded ATLEC (Assistive Technology Learning Through A Unified Curriculum – 518229-LLP-1-2011-1-UK-LEONARDO-LMP) project organises its kick-off meeting on 16-17/01/2012 in Nottingham, UK.

Studies throughout Europe under ACCESSIBLE and AEGIS (FP7 projects), and KA3 project ImPaCT highlighted in their pan-European surveys with over 1000 end-users and AT (Assistive Technologies) specialists that training is the core barrier towards using AT by end-users. This lack of training is subsequently also recognised as main barrier to assume a daily job in a regular working environment.

Although there are European initiatives such as EASTIN (www.eastin.info), which already gather (partial) ISO structured databases on AT, the actual ICT AT training is lacking, or not meeting the needs of the end-users. Although there are a number of initiatives on AT across the EU such as ATVET (UK), Blind people in Qualification (Austria), IMPACT, Keeping Pace with Assistive Technology (IT), they mainly address training of the trainers and professionals working with PwDs, and not the actual beneficiaries (people with disabilities) which remain largely unaware of the ICT AT that is there for them. ATLEC is to fill this gap and will focus on training the learners in specific skills particularly tailored according to their individual and employability needs, while also creating the job profile of ICT AT trainer.

The innovation of this project lies with the user centred design approach as well as the individual tailoring of the ATLEC curriculum and training materials to the learners’ needs, combined with the implementation of mobile learning objects to support the training, as well as applying mentoring as an additional supportive aspect of the ATLEC training services. The focus is on the person with disability (his/her needs and abilities as a learner), as well as the trainer.

Also the pedagogical methodologies will be innovative, using blended learning (F2F, online and mobile), resulting in accessible WCAG2.0 compliant learning/training objects, which are thus exchangeable with other learning initiatives. All ATLEC learning objects, training material and mobile applications will also be offered through the platform the ViPi project (KA3-ICT, 511792-LLP-1-2010-1-GR-KA3-KA3NW) aims to launch in 2012, and which is coordinated by PhoenixKM.

Training the end-users in appropriate usage of ICT-based AT means also teaching them new skills, digital competencies, learning to learn skills (key competencies), empowering them with a greater confidence, adaptability and a more positive attitude towards risk taking and access to an otherwise still to a large degree inaccessible physical, technological and attitudinal employment environment.

Apart from providing them the knowledge about AT ICT usage, and what is most appropriate for their specific disability, a mentoring scheme will be set up and ran in workplaces in Belgium and Greece, directly linking the knowledge and skills acquired with the practice, while also facing the reality in the working environment.

Last but not least the job profile of ICT AT trainer and the workplace mentoring scheme qualifying people with disabilities from unemployed, unqualified into qualified trainers will greatly increase their self-esteem, confidence and provide them with easier access to the regular labour market, as well as create new employment opportunities for the People with Disabilities communities. In the long term, this will lessen the social and economic burden.