1 Sapienza University of Rome (ITALY)
2 Instituto Politécnico do Porto (PORTUGAL)
3 Open University (UNITED KINGDOM)
4 Casa Santa Rosa (ITALY)
5 Lithuanian University of Health Sciences (LITHUANIA)
6 National Technical University of Athens (GREECE)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2021 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 5429-5435
ISBN: 978-84-09-27666-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2021.1104
Conference name: 15th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-9 March, 2021
Location: Online Conference
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced most European countries to impose restrictions during the winter/spring of 2020, schools were forced to close and implement systems of remote teaching. Whilst the results of these events are yet to be fully comprehended, the consequences on students that require additional supports in their educational process – especially students with disabilities – are clear and serious, due to the inadequacy of pedagogical models of distance learning for the characteristics of this population, and the lack of preparation of school staff.

This paper is about the actions that teachers from Italy and Portugal implemented to face the emergency. Italian and Portuguese educational systems follow a similar inclusive approach to the education of students with disabilities that require additional support. This approach stipulates the regular class as the most appropriate place to teach all students, independently of their level of functioning, with the special education/support teacher as a resource for the classroom teacher and all the students.

The research questions of this paper are:
What was the impact of technologies in the reinforcement of the cooperation among teachers, and parents and caregivers?
In what way did the technologies impact the educational interaction between teachers and students with additional support needs – specifically students with disabilities?

Structured interviews were applied to several teachers from each country and the transcripts subject to a content analysis. The main dimensions of the structured interview were:
What technologies were adopted and how satisfied were the teachers in its use?
The role of parents and caregivers in the remote educational process.

The adaptations they implemented in the individualized plans and in their educational practice.

Interviews were conducted partly face to face and partly via an online survey with open questions. The latter was based on 2 statistical questions and 10 questions focused on the research dimensions. Questions related to the first dimension inquired about the adopted tools (learning and communication platforms) and the experience they had during their interaction with the students. The questions about caregivers’ involvement analysed the importance of their participation in online activities. Key aspects were the description of their involvement in the online learning process, and of the collaborative work they developed with the teachers. One question addressed the communication process and the access to the materials. With regard to the third dimension, the survey questioned the adaptations implemented by the teachers through three questions that kept the general principles of Universal Design for Learning in the background. These questions focused on the modification of learning goals, due to the change to remote teaching, on the adaptation of materials and activities, to support students with additional support needs in their participation and involvement in class activities, and infine on the strategies implemented to evaluate performance and development.

This qualitative research collected answers from 10 special/support teachers working in Italian and Portuguese primary schools. The results are used to draft pedagogical guidelines to be used when there is the need for a class or a student to be taught remotely.
ICT for special education, students with disabilities, pandemic and special education.