CREATING THE CLASSROOM WITHOUT
BARRIERS OF THE FUTURE:
for the inclusion of students with albinism.
Albinism is a rare disease that affects one in 20.000 young people in Europe, but it has a serious impact on the chances of success and inclusion of those who suffer from it. This is because this genetic disorder causes the absence or reduction of pigmentation in the skin, eyes, and hair, leading to hypersensitivity to light, serious skin problems, severe visual impairment and, above all, social exclusion.
Thus, people with albinism do not just suffer from total or partial blindness and find it difficult to participate in outdoor activities, but also have a distinctive pale appearance that sadly causes discomfort to some people. So, according to studies conducted by renowned researchers, they suffer from the same racial segregation as other excluded groups.
If this is difficult for adults, it is even worse for children and high school students. Socializing in spaces (recess, gym…) and being treated as an equal in the classroom becomes a utopia. Despite these barriers, young people with albinism strive every day to achieve their goals… But they can’t do it alone.
One of the main objectives of the European entities of people with albinism that promote this project is to achieve the full inclusion of students with albinism in secondary education. This is a crucial period for youth with albinism, not only for the development of their educational skills, but also for their growth as an individual and their ability to overcome the barriers imposed by their condition, which will decisively mark their work, social, and personal future.
More and more schools are aware that the future of education goes through digitalization, and entities of people with albinism do not want to miss this opportunity, so when schools apply the digitalization process, they must do it inclusively: we want digitalization to be a new opportunity, not an obstacle for students with albinism.
In 2019, digitization in teaching was scarce. This lack of a firm commitment to the use, not only of new technologies, but of the pedagogical methodologies to implement them, made it impossible for students with low vision to achieve the expected educational achievements. Day-by-day they encountered barriers that neither they nor their teachers could break down.
Through the project CLASSROOM WITHOUT BARRIERS OF THE FUTURE, five social entities of people with low vision (most of them people with albinism) wanted to provide our experience and knowledge to promote digitalization processes capable of creating inclusive classrooms where our sons and daughters overcame all educational and social challenges to achieve a successful future.
INCLUSION OF STUDENTS
WITH LOW VISION
The project intends to promote the full inclusion of students with low vision in secondary school classrooms.
We promote processes for the effective digitalization as a path for the inclusion of students with low vision in the classroom.
The project and its processes help students achieve educational success, thus fighting against early school leaving and the social exclusion of youth with albinism and LV.
This process improves teacher’s abilities and training on inclusion, low vision, and innovative working methods by improving their practices.
Every few months, the partners of the project met to strengthen their bonds, further develop the project and its results, and to check and evaluate the advances made in the project and assess any difficulties met along the way.
1st Transnational Meeting – VALENCIA (Spain)
The first transnational meeting of the project was held in Valencia (Spain) on January 18, 2020.
In this meeting, with the participation of the project coordinators and legal representatives of the partner entities, the Intellectual Outputs O1: «METHODOLOGICAL GUIDE TO TRANSFROM YOUR CLASSROOM INTO THE CLASSROOM WITHOUT BARRIERS OF THE FUTURE» and the O2: «CONECT TO INCLUSION» SOFTWARE were worked on, and experiences and good practices on digital educational adaptations for students with low vision were exchanged. Agreements were signed, and the design of the visual image and the website of the project was approved.
The attendees also used this meeting to carry out the evaluation of the preparation stage of the project.
2nd Transnational Meeting – MILAN (Italy)
This second meeting was held on February 5, 2022, and focused on internal evaluation processes and on shaping the contents of the output O1: «METHODOLOGICAL GUIDE TO TRANSFROM YOUR CLASSROOM INTO THE CLASSROOM WITHOUT BARRIERS OF THE FUTURE».
We carried out a SWOT analysis that defined the strengths and weaknesses of the contents generated for said output, and the meeting also served to advance in the development of the O2: «CONNECT TO INCLUSION» SOFTWARE and to specify the pilot tests that would be carried out in the coming months. Lastly, an evaluation of the project was conducted, and of the impact that COVID-19 had on it.
Several non-formal and informal safe spaces were also established, where the attendees closed ties and exchanged experiences.
3rd Transnational Meeting – COPENHAGEN (Denmark)
This third meeting was held on April 23, 2022, and its main aspects was the final presentation to the participants of the BemyVega device, along with the «CONNECT TO INCLUSION» SOFTWARE (O2). The participants were shown not only the characteristics and possibilities of these tools, but the intense work done by teachers and youth through the more than 11 virtual activities carried out within this environment.
ALBA also presented its discussion group formed by young Spaniards with albinism, who made proposals and concerns, and defined the main drawbacks and barriers they encountered in their education. The details of the MULTIPLIER EVENT to be held on August 5, 2022 at «Las Arenas» hotel in Valencia (Spain) were also agreed upon.
More than 110 people interested in low vision and albinism gathered in Valencia (Spain) to witness the project’s results.
On August 5, 2022, the Multiplier Event was held at Hotel Resort “Las Arenas”, in Valencia (Spain), to carry out the dissemination of the results of the project. This was a massive event attended by more than 110 people interested in the “classroom of the future” for people with low vision.
At the event, the advantages of this project were highlighted, but it focused mainly on the dissemination of the Intellectual Outputs we had developed:
1. The METHODOLOGICAL GUIDE (O1).
The methodological guide developed includes new and current methodologies, explaining how the use of new technologies helps improve the learning of students with albinism. It includes recommendations for accessibility and teaching, and adaptation suggestions that take into account the greatly variable characteristics of people with albinism. One must not lose sight of the also existing risks of using new technologies, and how they can become an inconvenience and a possible element of social rejection.
2. The “CONNECT TO INCLUSION” SOFTWARE (O2).
This application can be found on the main app downloaders (Google Play and App Store), has educational resources for both teachers and students, and a forum with virtual activities or synchronous communication between users, which allows them to find support when they need it, with the strictest standards of digital security. Above all, this app is a unique tool for detecting the “BemyVega” device in the classroom, and if it doesn’t, it guides users in the process of connecting to the other digital devices in the classroom.
After this presentation, the attendees were encouraged to install “CONNECT TO INCLUSION” on their smartphones or tablet devices to carry out a brief practical workshop on its functions, thus being able to test first-hand the usefulness this digital tool has for the educational field and for the inclusion of visually impaired people.