IITE, the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education, aims to promote equal access to education and inclusion of the most vulnerable segments of society through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).
IITE has strived to improve the access and quality of education for disabled persons by means of ICTs since 1999. Within this framework, the Institute has held a number of international expert meetings and workshops in partnership with well-known experts from various countries, including the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Japan, Australia and the USA. This experience enabled the Institute to develop a specialized training course named: "ICTs in Education for People with Special Needs". A team of international experts from Italy, the Russian Federation, Australia, Denmark, and other countries, headed by Dr. Edwards (United Kingdom), developed this course. The course presents the best international experiences in the field of general and specific ICT application in education for a wide range of people with special educational needs, as well as policy advice.
Policy changes and consolidated efforts of governments and civil society are necessary to reduce the extensive gap that exists in access to, and use of, digital technologies by people with disabilitiesICTs can both ease an individualís access to life-long learning andcontribute to new career and business opportunities. ICTs also grant vulnerable groups and individuals access to the political, economic, scientific and cultural activities of a society, thereby helping to resolve social inequalities.
As part ofthe UNESCO initiative to promote a broader view of the concept of inclusive education, IITE supportspolicy dialogue to initiate the development of national e-inclusive strategies aimed at the following:
- increasing disadvantaged and excluded groups` access to ICT infrastructure;
- promoting basic ICT literacy and vocational training programs targeted specifically at the most vulnerable segments of society;
- and supporting regional, sub-regional and inter-country cooperation and exchange of good practiceson the extension of ICTsto excluded groups.
ICTs offer great potential to support life-long learning for all groups of learners, including those with disabilities. The application of ICTs can compensate for the lack of natural functions, thus contributing to appropriate learning environments for students with disabilities.
The direct beneficiaries of the activities in this field are policy and decision-makers who are responsible for or involved in the development of educational policies and plans; experts in teacher training and vocational development; as well asteachers themselves.