|An Educational Leadership Program graduate with a student in Lebanon.|
The first Perkins International regional outreach formally began September 2010 in Amman, Jordan, and has been an instrumental grassroots force in developing relationships with local schools and universities as well as agencies and humanitarian service organizations.
Throughout the Middle East and North Africa, Perkins is providing training and technical assistance in new and developing initiatives, expanding services to families whose children are blind or blind with additional disabilities.
Learn more about our work with examples of recent achievements and find out how you can be part of the transformation. Together, we can turn possibilities into realities and empower more people with disabilities throughout the Middle East and North Africa to realize their full potential.
Giving Arab Families Support and Information
The Challenge: In the crossroads of Northern Africa, Gulf, and the eastern Mediterranean, an estimated 16 million people are blind or have low vision, including thousands of children who are blind with additional disabilities and/or deafblind. Although early intervention ¬– helping a child during their most critical pre-school years – has been shown to be the best way to enhance their development, many infants and toddlers who are at risk never get the help they need. Instead, many of these children never end up attending school or have the opportunity for therapy or community involvement. The parents of children who are blind, deafblind, or blind with additional disabilities often don’t know how to cope or where to turn for advice, information, support, and services.
|Perkins President Steven Rothstein visits with policy makers in Dubai.|
The Intervention: Perkins International traveled around the Gulf region, introducing educators and families to the types of training and educational resources available through our workshops, teaching materials, and conferences. This included help for agencies dedicated to the families of young children who are blind or have low vision with additional disabilities.
The Method: When parents discover their child is blind, they often feel confused and alone, unsure of the future and overwhelmed with questions. This situation can be even more complicated when families don’t know where to turn for assistance. The Early Intervention Center in Oman is an example of one organization that provides children from birth to age 6 with specialized programs for developmental delays. The Center advocates for promptly identifying and provide services to children with disabilities and their families as a way of helping encourage language and speech, self-help skills and family involvement. Their vision is to expand their services to help more families and cover a wider geographic area, as well as work with a wider range of disabilities.
The Early Intervention Center wanted to expand their services to better service children who are blind and have low vision and their families. They contacted Perkins International for help. Perkins International staff developed a weeklong training session for 20 early intervention teachers, including home visits to families of children who are blind and those with additional disabilities. The teachers enhanced their skills on how to assess young children from infancy to pre-school, and observed ways to track their progress. The behavior of many toddlers is a form of communication, and educators were guided on how to remind parents to look for other ways of expression besides speech and gestures.
The Result: From working with just a few families with young children who are blind or have low vision with additional disabilities, the Early Intervention Center now plans to expand its services and help more and more families. With new knowledge and techniques, the educators at the Muscat, Oman, Center feel empowered to help infants, toddlers who are blind or deafblind as well as support their families Early intervention helps not just the parents, but the entire extended family – and ultimately the broader community.
Empowering Schools to Develop Student Potential
The Challenge: Like many places in the world, many children with disabilities in the Middle East and North Africa do not attend school. Those that do attend school frequently are educated in a separate facility with teachers who may not be familiar with the most effective strategies and techniques for educating children who are blind and visually impaired. In some places, schools may lack the funding and resources to adequately train staff, a vital tool in ensuring their continued success.
The Intervention: Perkins International understands that great teachers create great students, and that informed teachers can challenge students with disabilities to great aspirations. In the Middle East, Perkins staff work with local partners to train teachers and administrators who inspire and guide those who are blind or have low vision. Perkins is also providing technical assistance, developing curriculum and materials for both special education and inclusive schools, with the goal of helping students develop independent living skills.
|A mother with her son who is blind in Jordan.|
The Method: At the Al Noor Institute for the Blind in Qatar, students work in the classrooms, some participating in speech and language therapy, others learning music or exploring objects. This school is one of the few institutions for children with disabilities in Qatar, and teachers here are dedicated and determined to help students reach their fullest potential. The Institute serves students ages 3 to 21, and over 60 instructors attended two Perkins International training sessions, one in the summer of 2010 and the other just this past winter. After the first workshop, educators practiced the new strategies they learned, involving students in new communication methods and helping students with orientation and movement as they explored the world around them. With information about the calendar system – a structured way to refer to events in a child’s day – Al Noor teachers had a chance to apply hands-on techniques learned from experienced Perkins faculty. The second workshop focused on helping older adolescents prepare for adult life, looking to the future, developing relationships, and gain valuable work experience. This range of information on topics allowed for increased independence for students who are blind, deafblind, or blind with additional disabilities.
The Result: Today at the Al Noor Institute for the Blind, the highly trained teachers work with greater empathy and understanding, thanks to the intensive Perkins International seminars, which strengthened and solidified the staff’s growing expertise. They are better able to communicate with students who are blind or blind with additional disabilities, sharing this knowledge with parents. Teachers are now are able to develop positive behavior plans to reduce acting out and to apply creative, time-tested solutions. The Institute’s older students are working toward self-sufficiency and independence with the help of transition strategies learned from Perkins International. Thanks to new avenues of enlightenment opened by Perkins, local education professionals throughout the Middle East are discovering how to better serve children with disabilities. More schools and organizations are now utilizing research based effective practices to reach children who had limited opportunities.