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Background

Intellectual disability (ID) is a type of disability that results from limited mental capacity and affects every aspect of a person’s life to make own way in the world.

Treatment and education for individuals with IDs is the subject of special education which is the practice of educating students with special needs in a way that address their individual differences and needs. Special education must be appropriate for individual differences, comprehensive and pervasive. Services should cover every step of life of an individual with IDs from early years to later in life. In educational settings, main responsibility of individuals with IDs belongs to special education teachers. Since, it must be an intensive and life-long learning process; several professionals beside special education teachers must be involved in a collaborative manner. Collaboration requires common understanding and common goals for the individuals who are part of the education of individuals with IDs. In Turkey several experts from a variety of professions must be part of the collaborative effort namely class teachers, physiotherapists, psychologists, social workers, branch teachers, child development experts.

In Turkey, special education is provided in private special education and rehabilitation centers, special education and practice schools (public) under the control of Ministry of National Education. Most of teachers working in these organizations are not special education teachers and had no former education training in the past. Other professionals working in these organizations such as physiotherapists, psychologists, social workers, branch teachers, child development and education specialists have not sufficient knowledge and experience on special education and related issues. These cause problems while conducting special education programs for individuals with IDs and giving support to their families. Besides, training programs and educational materials are not sufficient to guide the target group called ‘’teachers & other professionals who work for individuals with IDs ’’. Some of those professions mentioned above provided in-service training by the Ministry. That provided training a common complaint of the teachers. Besides that, the majority of those professionals come into neither education nor prior formal or informal training or experience with individuals with IDs. A few small scale studies conducted in Turkey to determine the needs of those professionals and the findings indicated that those professionals are in need of improving their skills in effective teaching methods, behavior management and teaching language skills, along with several other issues. Based on preliminary indicators, a vocational training program/curriculum to guide professionals working for individuals with IDs should cover effective teaching methods and should be designed by professionals who are educators and/or academics who are experienced in the field of special education and aware of training needs of the professionals working for individuals with IDs. Moreover, effective and accessible training materials should be needed to guide all these professionals.

This project has been designed so as to answer to those needs through designing a training program/curriculum for the target group. Training program will be prepared in 3 modules called ‘’managing and changing behavior’’, ‘’improvement of communication & language skills’’ and ‘’evidence based practices’’ through utilizing the best practices of the European partners, UniTS (IT), CJD (DE) and also considering the needs of the target group in Turkey. Preparation of a curriculum for such a learning process and implementation of it with all actors involved is important to improve both quality and productivity, and to have more sustainable processes. The curriculum will also be adaptable to the digital platform using ICT and other educational tools aimed at training & retraining of current and potential target group. To this end, an e-learning portal will be designed & functionalized within the project. Curriculum and e-learning portal design processes will be supported through joint staff trainings to understand existent practices and the programs used at the European level. Through on-site training opportunities in real educational settings of the individuals with IDs, professionals working in the field of special education will be provided to complete their understanding in real settings.

The European Council set the strategic objective for the European Union to become the world’s most dynamic knowledge based economy. The development of high quality vocational education and training is a crucial and integral part of this strategy. In that mean, this project will create an environment where the people working in this sector in Turkey will share the same terminology, same İCT based technology and same vision with the European partners.