OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Include2020

Include2020 is a remote learning platform for diverse learners in underserved communities that can be accessed offline.

Photo of Melissa Diamond
11 28

Written by

I am a.....

  • Organization

Tell us about your idea

Include2020 is an inclusive education application that can be downloaded for offline access to Arabic-language inclusive education content. There will be sections of the application directed at adult caregivers, at siblings and at children with special needs. Content will focus on 1) Skills for independent living, 2) Academic skills, and 3) Communication skills. 

The application's content will be produced by teachers who have been trained in inclusive education by A Global Voice for Autism, and who are refugees and unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These teachers are often unemployed or underemployed due to a lack of recognition of their teaching skills in the communities where they reside as refugees. They have many skills to offer and Include2020 will give these teachers the opportunity to use their skills to support children that face barriers when accessing education.

Include2020 targets children with special needs in the Middle East who have largely been excluded from transitions to online education as well as children who have been excluded from school systems altogether due to their unique learning needs. Include2020 will capitalize on the high percentage of families who have a smartphone in thier households as a vehicle to disseminate content while accounting for challenges related to internet access by allowing all content to be downloaded and accessible offline.

What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

Prior to COVID-19, many schools in the communities served by A Global Voice for Autism excluded children with disabilities from their classrooms or limited their opportunities. When these children were included in classrooms they often faced bullying or were in classrooms with teachers who neglected them and were unsure how to address their needs. A Global Voice for Autism has been training teachers in conflict-affected communities in inclusive education since 2016. We have seen great progress, but there is still so much more to be done. We envision a world where all children have access to an education that is supports their unique learning needs. Making access to education universal benefits everyone. When children with special needs have access to an education that meets their learning needs they are able to contribute to their communities and to develop relationships that are valuable for all involved. Include2020 is a step toward the post-COVID19 inclusive society we want to see.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

I established A Global Voice for Autism in 2012 after meeting a mother in the Middle East who locked her autistic daughter in her home due to the autism stigma and lack of support services in her community. Since then, A Global Voice for Autism has grown to support over 14,000 teachers, parents, siblings and autistic children in thirteen conflict-affected communities worldwide. Working with teachers who take part in our program, we have been able to integrate many autistic children into school systems for the first time. However, with the onset of COVID-19 and the transition to remote learning, most of our children that were newly included in classrooms were excluded once again. We set out to design a program that would channel the skills of our trained teachers to include the children we support in remote learning and to expand educational opportunities to diverse learners who were not welcomed into pre-COVID19 school systems in the communities we serve. 

What region are you located in?

  • Western Asia

Where are you located?

A Global Voice for Autism supports families and teachers in communities affected by conflict in Western Asia. Our community members are refugees and members of the host communities that welcome refugees in the region. During COVID-19, 82% of primary breadwinners in our communities in Jordan, Turkey and the Palestinian Territories are unemployed. 40% of our community members are experiencing food insecurity. We support teachers and families of children with special needs to include all children.

11 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Spam
Photo of Chaly Iturri
Team

Un gran proyecto que seguro será de utilidad para muchas personas que lo necesitan. Felicidades!

Spam
Photo of Fabian Segurondo
Team

A truly amazing project! and we are so proud, happy, and excited to be part of it!!

Spam
Photo of Isaac Jumba
Team

Really great to have you on the challenge Melissa Diamond . Thank you for sharing what A Global Voice for Autism is currently looking to do especially around supporting underserved communities. Could you share more around the progress of the app? What little experiments are you looking to carry out to test it out?
It might be interesting to check out Caregiving Podcast by Danielle De La Fuente on their work with underserved communities. Might be interesting to get your perspective Tiffanie Harrison and Peter Worth 

Spam
Photo of Danielle De La Fuente
Team

Great work Melissa Diamond ! We utilize yoga in our teachings, and have heard it also yields great benefits for children with autism. Maybe it is something worth looking into.

Spam
Photo of Melissa Diamond
Team

Thanks for the suggestions and for your message Isaac! We are currently in the process of hiring the teachers that will produce the content and just opened the applications today. Teachers will propose activities/learning modules, take a test to affirm their skills and knowledge and will produce a sample video teaching one of their proposed activities as part of the application process. We will share these sample videos with our community members to test out the activities and give feedback on the activities/their experiences. This feedback and the samples will help us select the teachers for the first round of content creation. In terms of experiments, one of the biggest things we are trying to figure out right now is how to make app access affordable (the app is free but it will need to be downloaded which can be a challenge for famiies that don't have wi-fi access). We have been working with the families on some virtual consulting programs right now and are working to get a better sense of how and where they access internet. We've been working with the group of families that will be the first users of the app since between 2014-2018 so we have strong data on their children's skills and progress, but once we expand access beyond our community, we will need to do some experiments and tests to ensure the content is relevant and meets the needs of the broader community as well. We would love any ideas you have!

I will check out Danielle De La Fuente 's podcast as well. It sounds like great work!

Thank you Isaac Jumba !

Spam
Photo of Peter Worth
Team

Thanks, Melissa Diamond  thank you for sharing your idea, and thanks, Isaac Jumba  for commenting me in. Melissa, I am inspired by the way your idea supports learners with autism, but also teachers who are refugees, through employment, and the families of students. You also seem to have identified both the content and technical challenges to be overcome. I look forward to seeing how this develops!

Spam
Photo of Melissa Diamond
Team

Thank you Peter Worth ! 

Spam
Photo of David Enders
Team

Dear Melissa, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and about the organization!
I have worried about the inclusion of students who struggle economically during the COVID-19 crisis, but the exclusion of students with autism or similar disabilities had not occurred to me, and I'm glad you posted, raising my awareness by doing so. By my understanding, there are extremely varying levels of autism, and behavior and strengths are different for every person with autism. I am interested in how your program can adapt to these variations to offer a program that works for each user.

David

Spam
Photo of Melissa Diamond
Team

Hi David Enders ,
Thanks for your message and your support of our work! Supporting students who are economically disadvantaged at this time is so important and the challenges are exacerbated when students are economically disadvantaged and have disabilities at the same time. As you mentioned, autistic individuals have a wide variety of skills and challenges and every individual has different learning needs. Due to the stigma in the communities where we work, we tend to work with children with significant support needs as the families of children with fewer support needs often don't pursue a diagnosis/avoid support services due to stigma. That said, every child in our programs has different needs and our programs are adapted to meet those specific needs. To address this, our programs are divided into modules for each skills/activity/topic and we support caregivers in determining where to start with their children. Many of the children we support have diverse skills profiles and some may be very advanced in one area while needing significant support in another. They can plug into the models accordingly.

Spam
Photo of David Enders
Team

Hi Melissa, thanks for your response and for clarifying! I wish you luck and success with your project.

Spam
Photo of Melissa Diamond
Team

That's great to hear Danielle! I'd love to hear more about our work. We actually just offered a virtual yoga resource to our families the other day. If you know of any great resources for yoga for kids with special needs, I would love to learn more.