Daniela is one of many champions being highlighted by the GEM Report in the run up to the launch of its 2020 publication on inclusion and education: All means all, due out 23 June. In their own way, and in multiple countries around the world, these champions are fighting for learner diversity to be celebrated, rather than ignored.
At the age of 31, Daniela runs her own company “Hablando con Julis” (Talking to Julis), a company that uses communication and education software so that children, young people and adults with disabilities, who are illiterate and bilingual, can learn and communicate without difficulty.
Daniela grew up with her sister, Julis, who because of her disabilities could not speak or communicate with others. Using her engineering studies, Daniela created a programme that allows her sister to communicate, and thus have a future and be included in society. Today, Daniela and Julis work together sharing their programme and pedagogical model with governments, universities and private institutions, reaching 9,000 students in Latin America. Their goal is to expand to Europe and the United States.
“We all have disabilities – physical, medical, psychological, cognitive and environmental. People think that those with more visible disabilities cannot live, cannot learn or communicate. But we are proving that they can if we give them the right tools.”
For Daniela, her sister’s disability is not an inability. The biggest obstacle for people with disabilities is that they are not taken into account. Therefore, the most important job is to educate and raise awareness about disabilities.
“We have become accustomed to believing that there is only one way to talk, only one way to think, only one way to learn, only one way to see or walk. Disability is just another way of doing things: if I can’t talk, I do so through Hablando con Julis; if I can’t walk, I do so with a wheelchair; if I can’t see, I use a cane, touch and/or hearing. All forms are valid. And the same is true in learning.”
While she created the computer programme to help her sister, her vision is that everyone will have access to it. Daniela has dedicated her life to improving the quality of life of people with disabilities and hopes that, thanks to this programme, the barriers that prevent us from having a truly inclusive society can be taken apart.
“Everyone, without exception, learns differently and likes different things. If we use this principle in the construction of a curriculum that nurtures our skills by accepting new ways of getting where we are going, we can all fulfil ourselves as people.”
The 2020 GEM Report on inclusion will be looking at all those excluded from education systems around the world. It gives concrete policy examples being used by countries to help tackle exclusion, and recommendations for how to make sure every child – no matter their identity, background or ability – can access an inclusive, quality education. Sign up here to receive a copy in your inbox as soon as it is released on 23 June.