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Enhancing communication: research to improve communication for people with special needs and development of ICT resources and tools.
Start date: Oct 1, 2015, End date: Dec 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

EC+-Enhancing communication aims to improve interaction with people with special needs and development of ICT resources and tools. It is a 27month project coordinated by the University of Malaga and within the European Commission framework under the 2015 Erasmus + programme KA2 “Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices” in the field of Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education. The project aims at training students from several disciplines (education, psychology, interpreting and speech therapy) in specialized communication with disabled and developing a comprehensive framework of IT tools to enhance communication with people who are at high risk of total exclusion due to severe intellectual disability. The project has been conceived on the basis of reports from regional institutions in Andalusia, the demand of the disabled community stated in published documents, International academic research (Light and McNaughton, 2014), (Mirenda’s,2014) and the opinion of families, caregivers and professionals to provide accessible scientific guidelines and intervention tools for effective essential communication. The project has gathered three academic institutions and a hospital which are a reference in specialized research and also a training institutions for healthcare professionals. The target groups are university students who will be future professionals (teachers, speech therapists, psychologists, sign language interpreters, community interpreters) who will empower other target groups such as disabled subjects and healthcare professionals and caregivers who work with them with the necessary scientific information, strategies and tools for effective communication. The project targets a group of 2,500 students who will benefit directly from research and findings. Other stakeholders such as those suffering severe intellectual disability will be directly involved in the testing of tools and software. Those will reach the figure of 500 besides families and caregivers. There is a comprehensive methodology structure that join synergies of the various disciplines involved. On the side of Psychology, the methodology will be focused on the total communication approach (Schaeffer. & Kollinzas, 1980) and Makaton system (Jude Vinales, 2913). For interpreting, researchers will adopt the multimodality approach for communication (Bührig, 2004), Ventola (2004), Pascuandrea (2011), also adopted in disability research (Savvas et al 2008). For the pedagogical portal, resources and medical guides on a selection of rare diseases and other disabilities will be elaborated. All those resources will be hosted in a computerized database to be distributed by means of mobile applications. The approach of agile development methodologies (Ashmore, 2014), Rubin (2012) will be followed. OBJECTIVES: 1. To create a pedagogical portal which will offer open educational resources based on scientific and medical and psychology reference sources. 2. To create tools and software based on total communication approach, Makaton, sign language and multimodal resources that can be downloaded by using mobile applications. 3 . To train university students whose future profession involves working with disabled people. 4. To test products with stakeholders. 5. To collaborate with European partners in joint research and publish findings of the project in specialised journal. 6. To disseminate the project activities and findings and to make it sustainable. RESULTS: Databases pedagogical portal, scientific documents on rare diseases and disability, software to be downloaded with open licenses, virtual online courses, medical guides, academic works to be published in international journals or collective volumes. Three transnational meetings will be organized, an intensive program for higher education learners and an International Conference on Disability and Communication. The expected impact of the project will be to promote awareness on disability and communications needs at regional, national, European and international level, setting an example for international scope. The project is filling a gap on communication needs and empowering professionals and disabled people. One indicator of positive impact will be the evidence of the usefulness of resources by constant use of contents and positive feedback in questionaries’ after using resources. EC+ stability and continuity will be guaranteed by key participant research groups and a pedagogical portal with guidelines and resources that are open for all users and can be downloaded by mobile application technologies. Ph.D. research can further the results of this project. CONSORTIUM: University of Málaga (Coordinator) University of Klagenfur University of Ghent Fundació Parc Tauli
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