France: Digital school for pupils with mental disabilities

Main objectives: The school of the Centre de la Gabrielle works at the project “a school in the digital age for people with intellectual disabilities”. 13  teachers provide special education to 130 children and teenagers aged 6 to 20, with cognitive impairments associated with disorders. In 2009 a ICT-dedicated classroom, equipped with 10 laptops, a video projector, a digital camera, a color printer and Internet. This classroom became a place of resources, work and fun where pupils are applicants and stakeholders, develop mutual help, share knowledge and respect for the equipment. Each pupil has  access to this classroom, and can use a computer as most children, teenagers or adults do.

Relevance to ENTELIS. The introduction of Information and Communication Technology at the school is based on fairness for the sake of equality with the general population. In fact, digital skills are now part of the range of key skills that every citizen shall have at its disposal to adapt a rapidly changing world. A recommendation of the European Parliament and Council of 18th December 2006 (2006/962/EC) defined the eight “core competencies for life long education and training”: digital competence is the fourth one. Thus the use of the Internet and of office tools is more than necessary today:  no access to ICT is a source of discrimination. Through this project, we provide pupils with a intellectual disability the same tools as others in mainstream schools: computers, video projectors, and an Interactive digital board to learn differently. We intend to contribute to a better “inclusion” of pupils with disabilities in today’s mainly digital society.

New knowledge/experience provided. Introducing ICT in the school of the Centre has following consequences: 1) to provide a additionals tools to mobilize the skills of these pupils facing difficulties: that pupils that are usually unable to focus their attention beyond a few minutes, can focus much longer than traditional media and do enjoy it; 2) to establish the principle of fairness & justice: provide pupils with mental disabilities the same tools as other pupils in mainstream schools. This classroom allows to achieve two certificates validated by the French Education System: the Computer & Internet Patent and the Road Safety School Certificate required for registration at driver’s license.Allow a change of viewpoint: trained in new technologies and holding a Computer & Internet Patent, these pupils with disabilities are no longer characterized in the computer field by their disability but by their “digital” ability. They participate in the digital society: surfing the internet, using emails, participating in social networks.

Fact Sheet prepared by:
Dubois M. (Centre de la Gabrielle, France)
Short Description:
Experience from France: Digital school for pupils with mental disabilities