Inclusive Digital Academy (IDA) working meeting, France

Improving social integration of people with disabilities through digital and ICT skills

The principle of the IDA project is to always start from the needs of the people with disabilities. “It is not about doing something FOR them, but WITH them, says Régis Alvin, the coordinator of the IDA project. IDA participated in Grundtvig Award 2020 on Outreach and Access and was recognized as a highly-commendable initiative.

What was the main purpose of the initiative?

“The IDA project (Inclusive Digital Academy), supported by the European Union in the frame of the Erasmus+ program, aims to reduce the digital divide for people with disabilities by facilitating their access to ICTs. Today, the digital transition is accelerating, and the gap is widening among most of the population with disabilities, making their inclusion in our society more complex.

The partner countries of the IDA project, all involved for many years in the field of inclusion, have made digital access a priority. Based on a survey of the needs of people with disabilities, the partners work in synergy with the recipients as well as with the Bank of Research and Development Turkey to create innovative tools, simplifying access to ICTs, including the illiterate people. These tools will be published in two formats: e-learning content on a website and applications for smartphones.”

How does your project foster the outreach and access approach?

“Access to and the use of digital technologies is a precondition for success in the labour market, continuing education and training, the use of e-services in health care, public administration and trade, leisure activities, search and processing information, participation in social networks, and many more aspects of the daily life. If we want to offer people with social needs the chance for a self-determined life and to be an active and inclusive part of society, we must enable them to learn digital and ICT skills in a way they can comprehend and use.

These new skills, supported by the tools created, will have a significant impact on the personal and professional environment of the people with disabilities. They will be able to complete tasks that have been previously difficult or even impossible for them, and they will gain autonomy, self-determination, self-confidence, as well as better inclusion in our society. They will also be the main multipliers by communicating the tools to their peers. Closely linked with the process of developing innovative and adapted tools for people with disabilities, a reference document will be created, gathering all the tips to improve digital accessibility. This document will be available for any developer as well as digital actors.”

What was the best practice learned from this project that you would like to share? 

“The project’s success is due to the method used, mainly with the constitution of a partnership between professionals in the field of disability, people with disabilities themselves, and a team of researchers – developers. People with disabilities are the recipients of the tools created in the project, as well as the main actors for making improvements to existing tools and for finding new innovative tools.  It is not about doing something FOR them but WITH them.

Therefore, starting from the needs of people with disabilities, a whole work of experimentation, research, and adaptation is conducted by professionals and their target group on the desired applications. The results are then shared with research developers, working on appropriate digital solutions. The target group gets trained on the tools and we make adjustments before delivering the final product. So, each person with a disability, meeting the principle of learning from the learner, will be present in all stages of the development. This practice will provide a guarantee of creating adapted tools that effectively meet the needs of people with disabilities.”

Text: Dimitris Charmpis, EAEA. Photos: Inclusive Digital Academy

Inclusive Digital Academy

Category: National and Transnational initiatives

Coordinator: Les Papillons Blancs de Lille

Country: France

Focus: Inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities, digital skills

Outreach and access approach: Improving integration into society through digital and ICT skills

Resources: Website

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