O KUL CAN po angielsku
KUL CAN = YOU CAN: this short slogan is probably the best introduction to the mission of the ‘Centrum Aktywizacji Osób Niepełnosprawnych’ (Centre for promoting activeness of persons with disabilities) at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin. As the largest university centre in Poland for the adaptation of educational materials, KUL CAN offers a wide range of services for students with a visual impairment, strongly believing that persons with disabilities need not be ‘disabled’ as students. All they need is a chance to show what they can achieve if they receive appropriate support and the full access to the course books and other materials which sighted students take for granted.
In addition to Braille, large print and texts in digital format (support which is becoming standard at Polish universities), KUL CAN develops and provides students with innovative educational materials and resources. It offers a range of services including a computer room with specialist equipment and software, a borrowing service for laptops or electronic Braille notebooks, high quality thermographically printed tactile graphics and audiographics, 3-D printing and specialist software designed to meet specific needs of individual students with a visual impairment.
Cooperation with local museums, art galleries and schools of art has resulted in joint projects aimed at making works of art accessible to persons who are blind or have low vision. Poland’s success in the Typhlo & Tactus 2017 tactile books competition (third place!) will hopefully strengthen KUL CAN’s links with artists and and art educators and will raise interest and belief in the importance of encouraging Braille literacy by providing young totally blind learners with beautiful, intresting, high quality tactile books.
Equally important to KUL CAN as providing access to education for students with a visual impairment is the education of sighted children and students. A permanent exhibition and workshops acquaint students from local schools with the challenges caused by blindness and with the solutions available. Demonstration lessons in schools promote the benefits for both blind and sighted students of well-organized inclusive education.
With the experience gained from raising blind students’ confidence with tactile diagrams and in teaching English to totally blind learners, KUL CAN has been able to expand its services to regions where tactile graphics are unknown or neglected and where teachers of English have no qualifications in special needs. Free workshops for blind students and their teachers and parents have been offered by the director of KUL CAN in places as remote as India, Nepal, Palau and Samoa. Enthusiastic, highly positive feedback from participants and requests from other Asian countries and from Africa confirm the huge level of need in the area of support for teachers of learners with a visual impairment (all subjects!) in various parts of the world.
The example of KUL CAN suggests that no matter how limited financial resources of an organization (or of an individual) are, where there is a will there is a way and I sincerely hope that KUL CAN will soon find followers who will engage in similar international projects.