More than 250 education, research and medical experts, stakeholders, and frontliners from around the world joined forces to discuss constructive solutions in special needs education at Quest International University’s Special Education: Moving Beyond Boundaries (SEMB) 2021 Conference.
Themed “Embracing Uniqueness, Empowering Lives”, the two-day virtual conference, held on December 4 and 5, provided special needs educators, community specialists, students and parents with the latest skills, knowledge and understanding of special needs education, empowering them to support their special needs children and students.
A total of 38 keynote addresses, plenary speeches, and workshop presentations provided an avenue to discuss and share best practices for inclusive education. This education approach enables special needs children to learn optimally while having the continuum of support and services that is needed to match their diverse needs— ensuring that all children have equal access to quality education.
Guest of Honour Datin Sri Umayal Eswaran, Chairperson of RYTHM Foundation and Founder of Taarana, a Special Needs Education School said: “We need to construct a framework of measures to strengthen inclusive classrooms within the education ecosystem, to enable equal access to education for students of all abilities and needs. Schools need to have the proper infrastructure to accommodate children with special needs.
“Teachers must acquire the skills needed through training and support to help them understand and teach children with different special needs. With proper early diagnosis by therapists, teachers and parents can better prepare appropriate teaching strategies for their students.
“Integrating career coaching and job placement programmes into the school system will also help connect school leavers with special needs and learning disabilities to vocational training opportunities.”
SEMB 2021 welcomed speakers and presenters from a diverse range of fields and backgrounds, including academics, teachers, and special needs advocates from Asia, Europe, North America, and the Middle East. One of the highlights was when presenter Dr Anthony Alexander Chong Vee Yee made his presentation in sign-language, assisted by an interpreter.
Organising chairperson and Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences Professor Dr Chan Nee Nee said the conference’s theme had been well-served by the speakers and participants.
“We wanted to break boundaries between game changers in the field and frontliners like educators, specialists and parents. This will empower them with the skills they need to support children and students with special needs.
“The expertise and insight shared by speakers, presenters, and participants alike achieved this goal. We came away with a better understanding of how to identify and assess individuals with special needs, and how to support them beyond the classroom.”
The conference was especially eye-opening for younger participants like QIU Bachelor of Special Needs Education (Honours) student Amanda Nathan, who said:
“It has been a pleasure to be a part of SEMB 2021, as I managed to engage with many professionals and gain insights on topics that are extremely beneficial for those in the special education field. Ultimately, I believe this impactful conference helped us grasp the potential solutions that can help students with special needs worldwide.”
To make the contents of the conference accessible to all sections of the community, all of the recordings and documents used during the presentation will be available on the SEMB website (https://qiu.edu.my/semb/) for three months.
LINKS TO KEYNOTE/PLENARY SPEECHES
Professor David Evans
Professor of Special and Inclusive Education(The University of Sydney)
FASS Disability Liaison Officer.
Title: Special Education in a Post-Pandemic Era: Empowering Education for All
Mr Richard Rieser:
CEO, World of Inclusion (UK). Consultant, Inclusive Education and Disability Equality
Title: Inclusive Education after the COVID-19 Pandemic
Dr Vaughn Lauer
IEP Specialist/Advocate and Assessment Specialist.
Title: The Subtle Art of Collaboration: Full Team Participation and Decision-Making
Dr Toh Teck Hock
Paediatrician & Head of Clinical Research Centre (Sibu Hospital), Vice President of National Early Childhood Intervention Council (NECIC)
Title: Embracing Uniqueness: Empowering A Child’s Life
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Advisor, National Early Childhood Intervention Council (NECIC).
Advisor, National Family Support Group for Children & People with Special Needs.
Honorary Senior Fellow, Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy
Title: Future of Special Education Services in Malaysia: Weaving the Tapestry that Child, Families & Teachers Need