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Digital talking books: An alternative way of educating disabled kids

19 June 2013

Ranil Sorongon

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Digital talking books was a daunting task for the project team, the partner schools, and therapy centers as well as the teachers of the learning sessions, writes Ranil Sorongon, Executive Director of Autism Society Philippines.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) recognize the inherent rights of children with disabilities (CWDs) and their full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedom on an equal basis with other children. Accordingly, CWDs need to be educated of their rights in a way that recognizes their capacities and limitations.

Believing in the potential of DAISY digital talking books in supporting CWDs’ learning process in this area, the Autism Society Philippines (ASP) submitted an entry to the “Search for Innovative Philippine Human Rights Initiative” in 2011 conducted by the Ateneo Human Rights Center, Ateneo School of Government, and the Caucus of Development NGOs. The proposal entitled “Educating Children with Disabilities of Their Rights Using the Digital Books” emerged as one of the winners among the more than 200 entries. Australian Aid (AusAID) provided the funding support for the one-year project implementation that started in May 2012.

It was a daunting task for the project team, the partner schools, and therapy centers as well as the teachers of the learning sessions to implement such a novel project but the enthusiasm and commitment of the implementers fueled the group to successfully finish the project. After a year of implementation, 626 children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, AD/HD, Intellectual Disability,  Cerebral Palsy, deafness, and other disabilities acquired knowledge of their rights specifically the right to a good education, the right to play and rest, and the right to be protected against verbal and physical abuse. The total number went beyond the project’s target of 500 recipients.  Aside from this, the project team oriented 1,004 parents, siblings, teachers, and service providers on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as a means of assisting the CWDs in continuously understanding and internalizing their rights.  Twenty-seven (27) special schools and therapy centers around the country agreed to become ASP’s partners, committing to have their respective teachers conduct the learning sessions.  

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