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Bridging the gap between health experts and special education teachers

hartas.pngUniversity of Warwick researchers have contributed to an intensive training course for special education teachers held over five days in Konya, Turkey, sharing best practice and innovative ideas from an international research project into the education of deaf and hearing impaired children.

The course is part of a series of events sharing the results of an international research project focused on the Konevi School for the Hearing Impaired in Turkey and funded by the European Union as part of the Erasmus+ programme. The project’s findings will also be shared through a two-day seminar at the University of Warwick in May, to be led by Dr Dimitra Hartas from the University's Centre for Education Studies (CES).

In ‘From theory to practice: capacity building in special education schools concerning health and hearing care’ the Centre for Education Studies at the University of Warwick worked with partners from Germany, Spain, Slovakia and Turkey to explore best practice around the integration of health and hearing care into school settings, and to encourage collaboration between health experts and special education teachers working with deaf and hearing impaired children.

It is one of three linked projects exploring the education of deaf and hearing impaired children in Europe and Turkey. The first, We are overcoming the walls of silence with ICT investigated best practice in the use of technology in the classroom to support language and speech learning and produced a suite of classroom resources for Turkish teachers. The final project, which is still ongoing, is exploring innovation in play-based learning. Together the projects received more than half a million euro in funding.

Eyup Guzel

Dr Eyup Guzel, who took his PhD at CES, was instrumental in securing funding for all three projects, and co-ordinated a conference last month in Turkey where the results of From theory to practice were shared with more than 300 participants. He said:

“Everything began for me when I visited a Turkish deaf school as part of my PhD data collection. The school had limited resources and no access to excellent deaf schools in other countries. I wanted to make a difference and found that Erasmus+ would consider grant applications for programmes which shared best practice across borders. It was not easy to manage an international project while writing up my PhD thesis but I knew that I wanted to help these students and teachers.

“Presenting the results of our research project to children and parents with deafness and hearing impairment was something very special for me and a great honour. These are bright and clever children who face great communication barriers.

“Our first project showed that where teachers are trained in how to use it, ICT can make a real difference, especially if the materials are tailored to the local context, and that where hearing is highly supported with new technologies such as FM systems and cochlear implants, deafness can be mitigated up to a certain level. After using FM systems in Konevi School for 1 year, teachers reported great developments in the hearing levels of their students.

“In each of the projects, through interactions with the international partners and schools, examples of good practice have been identified and adapted at Koveni School.

“Overall, our work has shown that if there is a will, there is a way to enter the lives of deaf and hard of hearing people, and to help them to progress in their lives through building their communication skills.”

Dr Dimitra Hartas said: “These are innovative projects, truly international and interdisciplinary in their scope and nature, that brought together special education teachers, health and care specialists and deaf communities.

“Deaf education has a long history but its trajectory is changing fast with the introduction of ICT in class and a growing focus on diverse ways of supporting language and communication for deaf and hard of hearing children. Most importantly, through new pedagogies, deaf children have experimented with new ways to access and engage with the curriculum and communicate with their peers, teachers and families, overcoming their silence.”

26 February 2018

Read more about the three studies here: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/ces/research/current/erasmusplus

Photos: Dr Dimitra Hartas and Dr Eyup Guzel

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