Including and Connecting in Higher Education: networking opportunities for independent lives
HiLives is a Erasmus+ project and it aims to deepen knowledge and share practices in the inclusion of students with IDD in HE, and in their transition to an active and independent life, exploring the role digital media can play this process. The main result will be the development of strategies and tools to support the personal, academic and socio-professional development of young adults with IDD within the HE and employment context.
The University of Aveiro (UA), with 15000 students, being 80 with Special Educational Needs, possesses a significant experience in the field of supporting social and educational inclusion, both inside the university and in the community. The research team comes from 2 of the 19 research centers that are hosted in UAVR. UA offers opportunities to a wide and diverse public, to share knowledge and practices, to conceive new ways of cooperating and intervening in society, being host of multiple conferences and seminars in the field of inclusion. With specific expertise in Diversity, Curricular Development and in Digital Inclusion, UA developed a pilot-study involving five students with IDD, designed to strengthen the ‘big’ project which aims to create a University Studies Path, founded in a person-centered approach and curriculum, addressed to students who have finished compulsory education but cannot accede to Higher Education by the regular entry. Additionally, UA has recently been distinguished with the “Inclusive Employee Entity Brand”, a public distinction of the entities that recognize their workers as unique people in their diversity, standing out for their involvement in promoting employability and non-discrimination of people with disabilities. Within the UA, there are diverse resources assigned to attend the SN of either students, employees or collaborators. Among them, we can point the Pedagogical Office, the Service of Assistance to Users with Special Needs, available in the UA Library, and even participation in cooperation projects abroad, such as "Ria sem Limites" Project (adapted sailing). The members of UA involved in the project are experts in the field of special needs and inclusion, digital tools applied to inclusion, curriculum development, administration & educational policies, person-centered educational approach and sociology. HiLives Project is the optimal space to build, in a collaborative dynamic, the knowledge that such a subject as inclusion demands.
The University of Iceland is a state university, situated in the heart of Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland. A modern, diversified, and rapidly developing institution, the UI offers opportunities for study and research in 400 programs, spanning most fields of science and scholarship. The UI is organized into five schools: Social Sciences, Health Sciences, Humanities, Education, Natural Sciences, and Engineering. The School of Education at the UI, educates teachers for preschools, primary schools, and upper secondary schools, sports and health scenes, social educators, and leisure professionals. All academic programs at the School of Education are strongly linked to the workplaces of those professions the school educates, such as schools and other societal institutions. The programs provide a wide range of professional options, and serve as a good foundation for further studies. The vocational Diploma program for students with intellectual disabilities is hosted inside the faculty of Health, promotion, Sport and Leisure Studies and in collaboration with other faculties inside the School of Education. The diploma program at the University of Iceland has been based on an inclusive individualized model from the start, where students receive individualized support in order to access college courses. The diploma program is based on a social understanding of disability which draws attention to the environment and the need for social change instead of focusing on individual limitations and impairments and on the understanding that inclusive education should be available to all students at all education levels and students should be granted the support they need to be included in the academic and social life of the university. Students also receive on site job training at local preprimary schools, after school clubs or within the field of disability and self advocacy. Two part time staff members (70 % each) coordinates the program and ensure that students receive the support and accommodation they need, also there is an academic committee which is concerned with research and development of the program.
The University of Salamanca, founded in 1218 and one of the oldest Universities in Europe, is today a modern European University, open to the culture of practically every branch of teaching. Currently, the University of Salamanca teaches first and second cycle undergraduate degrees to almost 28,000 students, and to nearly 3,000 Master’s degree and PhD-candidates. With more than 3,000 researchers, who make up 70 Departments, 26 Faculties and Schools, 18 Institutes and other research units belonging to the social, biomedical, human, experimental and formal sciences, it stands out as one of the main public research organisations in Spain. The University of Salamanca supports the Research and Development activities of its scientific community, public institutions and industry, thanks to a set of scientific and technological consulting resources: a network of institutes, an European Research Projects Office, a Technology Transfer Office (OTRI) and several Central Management Services. Its strong engagement in international collaborations is supported by cooperation agreements in force with over 300 institutions around the world and by the participation of its researchers in several international projects, in particular under the European Programmes, where the university has acted in a wide range of profiles (coordinator, contractor, associated contractor, member, host institution…). The more recent developments of USAL – managed by the University Institute of Integration in the Community (INICO) - are, from 2018, UNIdiVERSITAS which is an "Own Title of Expert in Social-Labor Competencies" of the University of Salamanca aimed at people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The objective of this title of the University of Salamanca is to facilitate the employment inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities or development in the ordinary company. To do this, participants receive training in social and labor competencies and also carry out work practices. The UNIdiVERSITAS program is an own title of 38 ECTS credits and it is developed from November to June. UNIdiVERSITAS is now funded by the ONCE Foundation for the Cooperation and Social Inclusion of People with Disabilities and the European Social Fund. USAL-INICO brings a clear added value to HiLives Project, mainly considering its projection to all iberoamerican countries. Finally, INICO is part of the network of 20 Spanish universities developing training programs for people with intellectual disability, being pioneers in Spain in this type of programs.
Ghent University is a top 100 university and one of the major Belgian universities counting over 46,000 students and 15,000 employees. Located in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium and the cultural and economical heart of Europe, Ghent University is an active partner in national and international educational, scientific and industrial cooperation. With a view to cooperation in research and scientific service, numerous research groups, centres and institutes have been founded over the years. Several of them are renowned worldwide, in various scientific disciplines such as biotechnology, aquaculture, microelectronics, history,...We distinguish ourselves as a socially committed and pluralistic university in a broad international perspective. Ghent University has adopted an active policy of internationalization which, relying on the university’s embeddedness in its own language and culture, focuses on external contacts, exchanges and collaborations in terms of both research and education. This is a enrichment and is preferable to a more self- centred attitude. It not only involves collaborations with renowned institutions at the thematic, regional and multilateral level, but also development cooperation with partners in the south. This way, Ghent University strives to be a link in the production and circulation of knowledge worldwide. After all, knowledge is one of the most vital resources that we have. It cannot simply be created in cooperation with the strongest possible academic partners, but should be shared with partners in the south, not only because this is the right thing to do but also to achieve mutual development. “The university is not alone” is an important element in Ghent University’s self- awareness. Multiperspectivism is reflected in the realization that the university as a knowledge centre is but one link in the wider knowledge ecology that drives our society.
ASSOL is a NGO, located in Oliveira de Frades, a village in the Center of Portugal, founded in 1987 by families of people with disabilities and a group of interested citizens. At that time, in our region did not exist any support for people with disabilities, a few of them were supported in specialized institutions in Viseu and the families were the only caregivers of these people. Having started in 1989 with the first vocational training courses for 25 people with disabilities, ASSOL made a path along which, in partnership with the responsible public services and community organizations, namely companies, built a net of services that, thirty years later, supports around 1000 people with disabilities at different ages and also adults with disabling chronic mental illness. These services net include: Early Intervention; Resource Centre for Inclusion in regular schools; Vocational Training; Resource Centre for Qualification and Support Employment; CAO - Day centres for adult people with severe disabilities; USO - Day centres for adult people with disabling chronic mental illness; GAPRIC – Support to young and adult people to do activities in community and Residential care, provide by a sheltered home and foster families. ASSOL’s greatest wish is to provide our region with a support network able to facilitate familiar and social inclusion of disabled people and where everybody can get services they want when they need. Our values are: Respect; Nonviolence; Justice; Inclusion; People empowerment; Work in partnership; Continuous improvement and Equitable relationships between caregivers and people served. The aim of our work is to help each person to optimize their abilities and their quality of life and to have a participation recognized as valuable in the life of their family and their community. To achieve these objectives, ASSOL adopted Person-Centred Planning and Gentle Teaching as main methodologies.
AVISPT21 was created in 1996, by a group of parents of children with Down Syndrome. It assumed as a mission the implementation of actions related to scientific, educational, research and social aspects related to Down Syndrome, as well as other developmental disabilities. Since then, it has expanded its activities to support programs for individuals with special needs, namely in the support of some transition moments. GAPRIC (Community Entity Support Office) is one of those programmes: It is a modality that emerges as an answer to individuals with disabilities/health problems in the transition process to a post-scholar life (social and work contexts). The Development Center was created, as an autonomous unit of AVISPT21, to provide therapeutic help to youngsters and families, concerning health and education, with scientific advisor of the paediatrician Miguel Palha. We support children and youngsters throughout their life stages. A multidisciplinary team, composed by psychologists, therapists, a social worker, and a special education teacher, focus their intervention on community services as well as in a close relationship to scholar contexts. We have developed inclusion projects through art, in which young people with disabilities learn techniques and develop pieces with peers of the same age, in partnership with public institutions and visual artists. Recently, a concern for young people who dream about continuing to study in higher education, led us to begin projects with higher education institutions. AVISPT21 keeps working to promote social inclusion of individuals with disabilities through the involvement of families and all the community in raising awareness for inclusive education and full participation of everyone. We believe in self-determination and in the potential of each person, through education and the involvement in a community they are entitled to, to build a more inclusive society.
Founded in 1991, FORMEM is a Federation that represents, currently, 49 organizations who support persons with disabilities (PwD) in their professional qualification and labour aspirations. Our affiliates are distributed all over Portugal and our head office is in Coimbra, where our two full-time paid staff develops the tasks set by an unpaid executive board composed by 5 elements (elected every 3 years by the affiliates of the Federation). As an umbrella organization in the field of social inclusion, our action is focused on getting the best outcomes, in the changing environment, for the PwD and the organization we directly represent. To operationalize that we: 1. Shape and influence public policies towards vocational training and employment of PwD, in cooperation with the public bodies such as the Portuguese Institute for Employment and Vocational Training (IEFP) and the National Institute for Rehabilitation (INR); 2. Empower the endogenous capacities of our affiliates, promoting a spill-over effect towards the social sector in general, by developing a variety set of sharing and learning activities. Our benchmarking and benchlearning dynamics, that started in 2012 using as main guidelines the requirements set by EQUASS - European Quality in Social Services, are a good example how the sharing process can improve quality and accountability of the support given to PwD. 3. Dissemination and production of knowledge in the field of vocational training, employment, and quality of life for PwD. FORMEM’s Academy, our annual one-week conferences and debates (everyday with different subjects and speakers), presents itself has a mark of this effort. FORMEM has also an active role in civil society, either in Portugal and in Europe, where we believe that genuine learning and sharing expertise can be driven forces for a more inclusive, effective and efficient society. Our participation in HiLives Project, co-funded by Erasmus+ Program of the European Union, may encapsulate our will and capability to be part of the empowering movement for PwD.
We are the Núcleo de Aveiro of Associação Pais em Rede that is made up young adults with special need, parents and caregivers, partners, friends, volunteers, a coordination team, and a technical team that plans and guides the daily activities of the Nucleus since 2015. It currently supports 25 young adults with neurodevelopmental disorders and/or disability, mainly with Intellectual Developmental Disability (IDD). Our mission is social and professional inclusion of young adults with disabilities after compulsory schooling providing social responses, alternative to those available in the municipality, so they become independent and well-adjusted citizens and respond to their family needs. The GAPRIC (Support Offices for Included Programs in the Community) Project philosophy forms the basis of all the activity we develop which aims to facilitate and promote the socio-professional integration of young people with disabilities, through the construction of a community support network capable of creating responses that promote their autonomy, personal fulfilment and self-determination, and to promote the responsibility of the community itself in the process of including people with disabilities. Following a Person-Centred Planning approach, that allows the identification the participant's dreams, desires, and motivations, the technical team elaborates a medium term long individual life plan according to individual needs, interests, and decisions. We promote well-structured recreational, cultural, sports, personal and social development activities, and socio-professional experiences. We encourage and participate in community events to publicize our institution and the work we do to be able to serve more families that need our support. We want our young people to be involved in the community as long as possible creating real paths to social inclusion.