Accessible digital education for learners with autism and intellectual disabilities: Innovating solutions and enhancing educators’ competences The project ISEC–ADE (Accessible digital education for learners with autism and intellectual disabilities: Innovating solutions and enhancing educators’ competences), was commenced by an international consortium of partners with support by the Erasmus plus program of the European Union, in response to the widening education gap and exacerbating inequalities for learners with ASC and ID across Europe, where access to learning opportunities offered by digital technology for learners with ASC and IDis very limited. The education system is increasingly part of the digital transformation and can exploit its benefits and opportunities. However, it also needs to effectively manage the risks of the digital transformation, including the risk of an digital divide where certain people can benefit more than others. According to the EASPD (2020) the experience amid the coronavirus pandemic, demonstrated continued segregation of people with disabilities in education settings. This segregation is experienced particularly by learners with “invisible disabilities” such as autism spectrum conditions (ASC) and intellectual disabilities (ID). ISEC–ADE includes 6 partners representing academia, autism experts, education professionals and families from Bulgaria–Center for special educational support “D–r Peter Beron”, Cyprus–ShipCon, Greece–Cyclisis & D.A.D.A.A, Macedonia – Macedonian Scientific Society for Autism and Autism Institute. For the ISEC–ADE consortium, it is imperative that the educational needs of learners with ASC and ID are adequately addressed during the digital transformation in education, whatever their type of schooling, implementing the rights of persons with disabilities to an inclusive, accessible and high quality education at all levels (UNCRPD). Therefore, the main objective of the project is to reduce the digital divide in education for learners with autism by providing open access digital learning infrastructure (web app) accessible to learners with autism and a platform for sharing open educational recourses. This will address the major challenges faced by school systems due to the lack of digital tools and educational content for learners ASC and ID. However, educators need a set of digital competences specific to their profession in order to be able to seize the potential of digital technologies for enhancing and innovating education, as well as teaching competences specific to ASC and ID. With regard to this need, further support to education community will be provided with methodological guidelines for implementation of the digital tool for accessible and quality learning opportunities, as well as opportunities for professional development of educators, as they work to provide an equitable educational experience for learners with autism and intellectual disabilities.
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