The IDEA Research Unit has evolved from the university’s TEDI (Teacher Empowerment for Disability Inclusion) project which was created in response to a call to address the exclusion and poor-quality education of children with disabilities in South Africa. The primary objective of the Unit is to act as hub for future research in inclusive education in Africa and beyond, to promote networking and to carry out training within this field. It is envisaged that the Unit will be a catalyst to further ideas and knowledge as well as promote and strengthen the area of inclusive education locally, nationally, regionally, and globally.

The TEDI project (headed by the University of Cape Town in partnership with Christoffel-Blinden Mission [CBM]) and co-funded by the European Union and CBM aimed to empower teachers to provide quality education for learners with severe to profound sensory or intellectual impairments through training that is focused on inclusivity, diversity and addressing learners’ impairment-specific needs.

In doing this TEDI developed short, face-to-face courses and accompanying online courses (MOOCs) for educators, focusing on the following areas: disability studies in education, the education and care of learners with severe to profound intellectual disabilities, teaching learners with visual impairment, and teaching learners who are D/deaf or hard of hearing.


Severe to Profound Intellectual Disability: Circles of Care and Education

This course is about caring for and educating children (and youth) with severe to profound intellectual disability. It aims to inform and empower parents, caregivers, therapists and others involved in working with a person with severe to profound intellectual disability by exploring what intellectual disability entails, learning about support needs, how to go about planning learning activities and building relationships of care and respect.

The course topics include:

  • Who is the child with severe to profound intellectual disability?
  • Lifelong learning
  • Facilitating learning
  • Rights, advocacy and relationships of care

This course is aimed at parents and caregivers of children with severe to profound intellectual disability, therapists, centre managers and the broader public / community who are interested in knowing more about caring for and educating a person with an intellectual disability. Sign up here:



Navigating D/deaf and Hard of Hearing Education: Empowering teachers

From 25– 29 March 2019, 32 participants joined the TEDI Team at Belmont Square in Cape Town for the short course “Navigating D/deaf and Hard of Hearing Education: Empowering teachers.” Among the participants there was a principal, teachers of the D/deaf and Hard of Hearing, LSEN teachers, district officials, Deaf teaching assistants and education activists.

From the outset, the TEDI team consulted widely with all stakeholders involved in the education of D/deaf and Hard of Hearing learners in special, full service and mainstream school settings. In this way, the needs of learners in a variety of settings with a variety of communication methods were explored during the course.

Initial feedback from the course participants has been overwhelmingly favourable and it is clear that short courses such as this one are important in bridging an important gap in knowledge and skills of teachers and other education professionals. As this participant noted: "I enjoyed meeting and speaking with so many diverse, passionate and knowledgeable people. The content and heart behind it has given me new awareness and inspiration to become the best teacher possible. I was blown away by the revelations, and ideas from course participants and even myself - places in my own thought where I might have been part of the problem".

VI course

Our short course on Teaching learners with visual impairment (low vision and blindness) was held for the very first time from 1 – 5 October 2018 at the Health Sciences Faculty, University of Cape Town. The 5 days were filled with fun, experiential engagements and learning through use of panel discussions, and mind stimulating practical exercises. This space also promoted the building of new networks, new friendships and sharing of resources and knowledge from both facilitators and participants. It also opened the opportunity for participants to reflect on their own teaching as one noted “I feel equipped, empowered, rejuvenated and ready to implement and reflect on my teaching. A better person has emerged in me”. Hats off to all the teachers out there who are making a difference in the lives of learners with visual impairment.

Disability Studies in Education

The piloting of our first two TEDI courses was a great success. Participants on the Disability Studies in Education course (16-20 July 2018) were enthusiastic, engaging and committed to upskilling themselves in order to provide quality education to learners with disabilities. The days were jam-packed with stimulating content, debate and conversation. One participant noted “The course was extremely informative, particularly putting into context where, when and how special needs education started, what has been achieved and where we are going to. A must for every person involved with special needs education”.

Education and Care of Learners with Severe to Profound Intellectual Disabilities

The Education and Care of Learners with Severe to Profound Intellectual Disabilities short course (23-27 July 2018) took place at Reeds Country Lodge in Worcester. Participants were energetic, passionate and dedicated. Each day was filled with informative sessions, experiential learning, and fun and laughter. In designing posters, one group of participants wrote: “We strive to help our children to develop at their own pace to their full potential. We do it with LOVE and a lot of patience”.  A big thank you to all those involved for making these courses such a huge success.


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