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Driving systemic change for children with disabilities in Yucatan, Mexico

The State of Yucatan promotes inclusive educational opportunities through the publication of books for special education professionals containing expert knowledge from various sources, including graduates of the Perkins International Academy.

A picture of a teacher wearing glasses embracing a young boy wearing red shirt and smiling

Summoned by the Department of Special Education from the Secretariat of Education of the Government of the State of Yucatán (SEGEY) in Mexico, teachers and other professionals joined their knowledge and experiences in creating booklets about several topics, including Multiple Disabilities.

Their efforts resulted in the release of a book collection titled “Working Together for #Inclusion.” The collection consists of 10 informative books on the education and care of students with disabilities, encompassing diverse strategies and specific methods. Its main goal is to equip special education professionals with the knowledge to identify students’ specific educational needs, remove barriers to learning and participation, and implement adjustments that facilitate complete and equitable engagement in educational settings and society as a whole.

Image of an infant laying on a mat while Dr. Emelia Hernández Payán holds her hands and looks at her.
Dr. Emelia Hernández Payán at Tecoh school demonstrating a mobility exercise to teachers.

The publication of these books was made possible through the collaboration of professionals who have been involved with Perkins School for the Blind’s international programs for over a decade. In 2006, Perkins organized a national-level workshop in Mexico, where Dr. Emelia Hernández Payán attended and took on the challenge of disseminating the knowledge to address systemic educational challenges in her home state of Yucatan.

Currently serving as a Perkins Education Coordinator, Dr. Hernández Payán has worked alongside other teachers and professionals from Model Schools, in which teachers are graduates of the Perkins International Academy. Teachers and professionals from the Yucatan educational system have combined their expertise to draft and produce booklets on Multiple Disabilities, Functional Evaluation, and Motor Disability, which will be distributed to all special education services and schools in the state.

Collaborating with Project Pixan

In 2018, Perkins initiated Project Pixan in Mexico with the objective of enhancing the quality of education for students with disabilities across the country. In the State of Yucatan, the government’s support, under the leadership of Professor Jesús Valencia Mena and Concepción Fernández Azcorra, has been a key factor in significantly impacting the region.

Several schools participating in Project Pixan are situated in rural areas with a large population of students with multiple and severe disabilities and deafblindness. Equipping teachers in these locations with the necessary knowledge and skills to deliver exceptional special education services is crucial for driving systemic transformation. Supporting this goal, the publications were distributed in all schools of the Yucatan state, impacting over 11,000 students and 1,500 teachers, including other professionals.

A photo showing a table with four young children sitting and adults standing around them, observing the teacher carrying out an activity on hygiene, with drawings on the table.
Teachers from the Tekax school guide activities for children and families.

Dr. Mariely Aracely Quiñones Solís, supervisor in one of the state regions and participant of Project Pixan, shares how she believes that working with students with multiple disabilities brings ample learning opportunities and positive experiences for professionals; at the same time teachers and other staff can still face personal challenges that require an ongoing search for support.

Dr. Quiñones, who was also trained by the Perkins International Academy, has been an integral participant in the positive changes at a special education school located in Tekax. She adds that “having the publications provide teachers with an additional support tool that allows them to broaden their perspective, create new expectations, and verify, in some way, whether what they are doing is being implemented elsewhere or if it requires adjustments.”

Picture of principal Sheila hugging Gloria Rodriguez-Gil, the director of Perkins programs in Latin America. Both women are seen smiling and happy to celebrate their accomplishments together.
Principal Sheila and Gloria, Director of Perkins Programs in Latin America, during a visit at Tecoh school.

Sheila Beatriz López Manzanero, principal of a special education school in Tecoh, Yucatán, shares how she has witnessed first-hand what training and mentoring opportunities have done for the system as a whole. Her school, which has been a part of Proyecto Pixan for four years, has become a proven model of change that includes self-evaluation, revision of practices, and implementation of proven practices for children with disabilities.

Sheila believes that the publication of this book collection has had a positive impact, as teachers now have access to ”a wealth of summarized information, expressed in practical and simple language, which not only makes for easy reading but provides a quick reference on how to work with children with multiple disabilities when approaching them for the first time.”

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