The importance of lifelong learning and the constant improvement of personal and communication skills is nowadays a basic requirement in all fields of employment because of the rapidly changing world of business and commerce. Computer skills and foreign language skills are now seen as basic requirements in all the major fields of employment.
The employment rate of persons with intellectual disabilities is very low, especially on the open labour market. Unemployment often leads to poverty and social isolation. Additionally, people with disabilities are largely excluded from digital society with serious consequences for their opportunities for lifelong learning and for their employment prospects. The ACCESS Project aims to tackle both these issues and has just begun a two year Erasmus+ project with a kick off meeting in Budapest. The aim of the project is to develop and implement specially designed training programs for persons with intellectual disabilities, in the fields of basic spoken English and basic IT knowledge in order to consolidate and strengthen the position of these people on the open labour market, improve their employability, reduce their social isolation and allow them to make friends and communicate with people in other countries using their basic English skills.
In some EU countries, adult education programs offer surprisingly little to people with intellectual disabilities in both computer and foreign language skills, with most post 16 educational and training programmes concentrating on vocational training, linking to practical skills such as gardening, carpentry, weaving, etc.) Increasingly important ‘general’ skills such as computer usage, IT knowledge and the related security and safety issues, foreign language learning are usually absent from the system that provides special courses for persons with intellectual disabilities. There are very few opportunities at mainstream adult education where they can practice and improve their skills and, when such general adult education courses do exist, they are not tailored to the needs of this disadvantaged group and most of them could not afford to pay for such courses anyway.
The ACCESS project (involving partners from HU, SI, SW, UK) will develop teaching and learning materials, especially designed to teach persons with intellectual disabilities (and related developmental disabilities) about basic computer skills and how to use the internet safely. All this will be underpinned by courses in basic English, designed specifically to fit in with the topics and skills being studied. The actual ‘physical’ training materials (a trainer’s guide and a learner’s handbook) will be supplemented by additional training for the teachers as well as on-screen assistance.
With such international cooperation best practices will be shared and used to develop a ‘universal version’ of the basic training programs. These universal versions would be localized by each partner organization, based on the local needs and specialities.
Each main topic (basic spoken English, basic IT and internet safety) would contain a trainer’s guide and a learner’s handbook. You are invited to make contact with the Project manager (Zsuzsa Rozgonyi, firstname.lastname@example.org) for further information.