Electronic Library: Reaching Beyond the Limits of Traditional Learning
By Daniella Daou
“My daughter’s special educator and therapist are now one click away!” – Mother of 9 year old with Down Syndrome
Children and youth with special needs once again fall into the neglected population in yet another crisis that Lebanon and the world face. When schools closed their doors and online education became the new normal, Lebanon witnessed no place or accommodations for learners with special educational needs as differentiated instruction was left behind and forgotten on the benches of the traditional classroom. In addition, the economic crisis that Lebanon has been going through has facilitated the neglect of and under-provision for children and youth with special needs. As schools were threatened with closure, budget cuts had to be made, and some schools chose to sacrifice their special education departments, thus taking the right of education away from hundreds of children with learning difficulties. On the other side, faced with the increase in tuition, some parents chose to leave their child with special needs out of school and away from specialized intervention.
The challenges faced by parents and their children motivated the SKILD team to reach out to them through online resources. A team of therapists and special educators filmed 74 short videos (3 to 4 minutes each) in Arabic that benefit educators and parents as they and their children are faced with challenges at the academic, behavioral, and/or psychological levels. These short videos include a set of practical activities that children can do at home to strengthen specific skills and address educational and therapeutic difficulties a learner with special needs might be facing. The videos are combined to form an electronic library with six categories: special education, psychomotor therapy, speech and language therapy, behavioral therapy, psychological support, and parents’ testimonies. This e-library has been made accessible to all free of charge on the SKILD website in order to reach the largest number of beneficiaries especially since children’s access to education and specialized support is limited by online learning.
In collaboration with Annahar, a leading Lebanese newspaper, the videos reached more than 300,000 individuals in the Arab World with the highest views in Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt. The widespread reach and reactions to the videos raised our attention to the rising need and existing gap in online resources available in Arabic for children and youth with special needs. For this reason, we are filming an additional 33 videos in collaboration with partner schools!