Training University Teachers for the inclusion of people with Intellectual Disabilities

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Nowadays, people with intellectual disabilities have a limited participation in higher education (Universities) due to the lack of adapted resources, although efforts have been already carried out in different countries to increase the presence of people with intellectual disabilities with a functional level and previous skills that enable them to perform and to learn at Higher Education environments (Universities). Nevertheless, it is usual that professionals of education don’t feel prepared enough to attend properly to people with special education needs, especially in high education levels, due to a lack of training in strategies for attention to diversity within grades that give access to university environment as professionals.

Thus, this programme is addressed at teachers and professors at the University level, to improve their knowledge about intellectual disabilities, the specific educational needs related to them, and the different possibilities to adapt their subjects for the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.

To this end, a training course curriculum will be designed (O1), comprising a wide range of transversal subjects, methodologies, and resources for the adoption of their official curricula and teaching materials to the needs of people with intellectual disabilities, including practical internships. This output will also comprise the Guidelines for the implementation of the designed curriculum, aimed at policy makers, administration officers and other stakeholders involved in the role of higher education environments as promoters of effective social inclusion.

In addition, a Virtual Learning Environment (O2) will be created, based on the course designed in O1, to enhance the internationalization and convergence of the national formats, as well as the exchange of methodologies and good practices.

The transnational cooperation required for the development of this project will ensure the exchange of best policies in the training of teachers for the attention to intellectual disabilities. The consortium if formed by six Universities from various cultural backgrounds and wide geographical coverage (Belgium, Portugal, Italy and Spain); two Associations committed to the support of people with intellectual disabilities; and a company with a wide experience in the development of Virtual Environments for different purposes, including education, health and social inclusion.

The target groups involved in this project are Universities, Associations and NGOs, researchers and teachers at higher education levels, policy makers and national representatives. Four Events will be organised in the partner countries, to disseminate the outputs and collect feedback, consisting on workshops in the field of inclusive education; besides, a Learning/Teaching activity will offer the possibility of testing and validating the Virtual Learning environment and promote the exchange of experiences and good practices.

The most outstanding impact of the Project will be the development of the basis to increase the number of official university degrees addressed at the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in higher education contexts, improving their self-esteem and autonomy and opening them new labour.