UNESCO supported McCam Child Care & Development Centre to organize the first ICT for Special Needs Education Training Workshop from 11 to 12 November 2013 in Kingston, Jamaica. The event aimed at building capacities of educators in the use of available and emerging ICT, and their integrating into learning and teaching environment of students with the special needs.
Based on training-of-trainers format, the workshop was designed to produce master trainers, who would be able to train others and begin the change in pedagogical teaching practices. Twenty-four participants, mostly teachers and NGO workers from various disability groups including the deaf, blind and intellectually disabled, travelled to Kingston from as far as Westmoreland to participate in the workshop. They now have the challenging task of bringing a change in teaching and learning through ICT to their respective institutions and organizations.
Hara Padhy, Information and Communication Advisor from UNESCO’s Office in Kingston, presented new and emerging ICT tools, terminologies, policies and activities that had already influenced special education and would continue to do so. Melody Williams, educational technologist, presented new skills which would allow for the development of ICT resources, greatly needed in special education.
UNESCO is working to build inclusive knowledge societies, where persons with disabilities must be included at all levels, which can be achieved with the help of new technologies. Assistive technologies, especially those with personalized disability-friendly features, can improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities by providing better access to information and knowledge, to education and healthcare, as well as to employment. UNESCO initiated this first activity of its kind in Jamaica and hopes to replicate it in other countries of Caribbean building on the Jamaican experience in the next biennium.
Today, more than one billion people live with some form of disability in the world. Jamaica is reported to have more than 160,000 persons with some forms of disabilities (Persons with Disabilities - Vision 2030 Jamaica, sector plan 2009-2030).