1 National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Department of Educational Studies (GREECE)
2 National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (GREECE)
3 University of Thessaly, Department of Special Education (GREECE)
4 University of Patras, Department of Educational Sciences and Early Childhood Education (GREECE)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2023 Proceedings
Publication year: 2023
Pages: 236-237 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-09-49026-4
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2023.0092
Conference name: 17th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2023
Location: Valencia, Spain
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on educational systems has caused a paramount shift in the organization and delivery of education worldwide. All involved stakeholders were confronted abruptly by an unprecedented reality without being prepared beforehand. Regrettably, the spillovers of the pandemic crisis on educational systems proved to be detrimental for students with disabilities (SwDs) highlighting the looming social and educational inequalities and the huge gap in organizational preparedness in education.
In Greece, the systemic weaknesses of the education system peaked to the education of SwDs in both mainstream and special education settings. 105,970 SwDs and their families, namely the 7,8% of the national student population, were affected heavily at educational, social, and economic levels compromising their right to actively participate in inclusive, sustainable, and resilient school communities. Albeit the prompt policy responses to pandemic implications, no preparation or response measures were taken to support the SwDs and their families. The organizational preparedness and response planning of educational organizations were found poor and non-disability inclusive.
Acknowledging the urgent need to support policy and education in their efforts to get properly prepared for the next crisis, this study aims to identify the enablers and challenges to respond effectively to SwDs’ and their families’ educational and psycho-social needs in a crisis context. Being part of the research project AlDiSo (Aligning Disability principles with practice in pandemic crisis: redefining the problem(s)- recasting Solution(s) to support disabled students), the objective of current research is to contribute to addressing the preparedness gap in educational organizations by developing a scientifically sound, inclusive, and sustainable preparedness plan.

The research project AlDiSo is anchored in a scientifically sound methodology drawing on the systems thinking change and on organizational preparedness conceptual frameworks from an inclusive approach. The mixed methods design for data collection and analysis, supported by several qualitative and quantitative tools, was deemed the most appropriate to unpack the complexities and multi-layers of the under-development preparedness plan and tool.

The following three levels of data analysis were used to gain in-depth and comprehensive insights to inform the preparedness plan: a) parents and disabled students exploring their experiences, psychosocial and educational needs as well as their opinions and perspectives about the support systems, measures, and services they received during the pandemic; b) mapping of the existing strategies, support services, educational programs, resources, and practical tools and identifying the potential gaps against the real needs of SwDs and their families; c) assessment of the effectiveness of organizational strategies and synthesis of the findings into a structured database to inform the preparedness plan.

Six organizational preparedness domains and fourteen indicators have been found to inform the preparedness plan for educational organizations. The identified enablers and challenges reflecting the educational and psycho-social needs of SwDs and their families may be used by education and policy to get the educational organizations properly and inclusively prepared to respond effectively to a future crisis.
Education system, pandemic crisis, preparedness, response, disabled students, enablers, challenges, educational needs, psycho-social needs.