EMPOWERING YOUNG PEOPLE WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS TO BECOME ACTIVE AGENTS FOR SOCIAL INCLUSION: THE CASE OF THE ADD@ME PROJECT
1 University of Thessaly (GREECE)
2 Unione Italiana Ciechi ed Ipovedenti Sezione Provinciale di Firenze (ITALY)
3 Visually Impaired Education and Work Support International AISBL (BELGIUM)
4 Ofensiva Tinerilor Asociația (ROMANIA)
5 Fundacion Docete Omnes (SPAIN)
6 Polski Zwiazek Niewidomych (POLAND)
About this paper:
Conference name: 14th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 8-9 November, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:People with disabilities very often are treated as people with weaknesses without recognizing in them potentials and significant contribution in the society. The third EU Youth Goal (2018) states that 1/3 of young people in Europe are at risk of social exclusion. People with disabilities are included in this category and often end up as victims of indirect discrimination. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes that many components of disability stem from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others. According to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, it seems that in many cases the values of equity, empowerment, and emancipation do not apply for all including those people who have disabilities. In specific, people with visual impairments are often seen as people with fewer opportunities, they are often characterized as minority groups and as a result in many cases they are isolated in a seemingly inclusive society. The present paper refers to an Erasmus+ project entitled “Ambassadors of Diversity and non-Discrimination @ new Methods in non-formal Education” (ADD@ME) which acknowledges the need to tackle the above-mentioned challenges by providing opportunities to people with visual impairments to take the lead and become active agents or ambassadors of their rights at all levels of everyday life. The main objective of ADD@ME is to develop or consolidate skills in youth with visual impairments which include public speaking, self-advocacy, communication and interpersonal skills, presentation skills, team work, leadership and networking.
The innovative character of this project lies in the development of a tailormade blended training programme and a set of digital adapted tools which will be used and exploited by youth with visual impairments themselves in order to empower and enhance self-confidence, spirit of initiative and self-esteem of young people with visual impairment, fostering and enhancing social inclusion. The authors present and describe in this paper the following: a. the structure of the innovative blended training programme based on adapted non-formal learning methods, and b. the content of the blended training programme., and c. the design of the implementation phase. The project consortium consists of six organizations which bring a different perspective to the project according to their profile. The authors of this paper strongly believe that the ADD@ME project will empower young people with a visual impairment to become Key Players in processes and activities concerning their own social inclusion at local, regional as well as at EU level. The main ways to achieve the above, within this project are tailored-made blended training programmes which incorporates significant elements of inclusive education, digital adapted tools, and awareness-raising events which are going to be led by youngsters with visual impairments themselves. Finally, it is argued that the aforementioned issues, should be an integral part of a systematic educational policy for the provision of educational opportunities in terms of equality and inclusion for all.
Keywords: Disability, visual impairment, social inclusion, innovative practices, youth, blended training programme, non-formal education, digital skills, empowerment.