4.2 Supporting teachers and students
If the real potential of ICT for pupils’ learning is to be reached, teachers will first have to be convinced of the value of using ICT.112
Pre-service and in-service teacher-education programmes on accessible ICTs are essential if teachers are to attain the pedagogical capacity necessary to make accessible ICTs a viable option for mainstreaming children with disabilities in inclusive schools. The availability of appropriate support structures for implementing accessible ICTs in an inclusive school setting has been stressed as being as important for many teachers as the provision of the appropriate hardware and software.113
The UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies (IITE) provides an in-depth resource on the training of teachers in the use of accessible ICTs for Special Needs Education (SNE). This training comprises four modules covering (1) an overview of the place of accessible ICTs in SNE, (2) ATs for students with disabilities, (3) the use of ICTs in distance education for students with special educational needs and (4) the role of policy in the implementation of ICT in SNE.
Figure 4.2 UNESCO IITE ICTs in Education for People with Special Needs114
While it is not necessary for teachers to have in-depth knowledge of assistive technologies and devices, it is important that they receive supported in developing educational material and resources that are accessible for all students.
Another key resource is the report “A review of good practice in ICT and Special Educational Needs for Africa.” Commissioned by the Ghanaian Ministry of Education in 2003, this report contains suggestions for curriculum development, training of teachers and practical advice on such things as setting up a resource room for the use of ICTs.
Resources for teachers
The section on technical resources has a range of resources for teachers to become familiar with the use of ATs and accessible formats in the classroom curriculum. Those resources could be incorporated into both pre- and in-service training for teachers. Policy-makers should also consider supporting and funding the development of distance learning courses in the use of accessible ICTs in inclusive classrooms for in-service training of teachers.
One of the first things teachers should learn is about the accessibility features in technologies they already know and use. The Microsoft guide “Accessibility: A Guide for Educators” provides information about accessibility and accessible technology to help educators worldwide ensure that all students have equal access to learning with technology. The guide provides:
Detailed guidance on using the accessibility features in Microsoft products,
An understanding of accessibility and how it impacts the classroom,
Definitions of impairment types and technology solutions for each type of impairment,
Guidance on choosing accessible technology solutions, and
Resources for more information.
Links to resources on using the accessibility features of other major operating systems such as Apple OS X and Linux are available on the e-Accessibility Policy Toolkit website.