Iva Jelínková, Lenka Říhová

Special needs teachers, lectors and consultants for iPad in Education, leaders of iSEN community, APD trainers
Czech Republic
for the use of new technologies to improve the lives of children with special needs

About Iva Jelínková, Lenka Říhová

The spread of new technologies and applications in recent years has opened and created plenty of possibilities in almost all spheres of life. One of the areas which they have influenced the most is the field of education. The impact of these technologies has been very positive, allowing creative people to launch projects for the benefit of the educational community.

Lenka Říhová and Iva Jelínková are a very good example of this. These two special education teachers had a clear idea on how to improve the learning of children with disabilities. In January 2011, they launched an online platform called iSEN, in order to put together parents, teachers, therapists, and all others who share information about how iOS devices could be used to work with children with special needs. Five months later, they started to apply the knowledge acquired through these debates in a special elementary school in Poděbrady, devoted to children with special educational and behavioral needs. The plan consisted of the use of iPads for teaching children who were unable to communicate in spoken language, taking into account that “the touch is our very first way of getting to know the world around us”. Their project, aimed at sharing experiences, helped not only to encourage those children with disabilities to interact more often, expressing their feelings and thoughts, but was the starting point for spreading touchpad technology to schools throughout the Czech Republic.

The success of the experience of the school in Poděbrady was featured in 2013 on Apple’s official website, which highlighted on its website the extraordinary story of this special institution and the importance that iPads have had for developing education. The relevance of this achievement relies on the fact that only other two elementary schools around the world, one from Okinawa, Japan, and another from New York, were also selected by Apple. In other words, due to the enthusiasm and commitment of Ms. Říhová and Ms. Jelínková, their activities crossed the Czech border and became a very good example of how to apply new technology to help children with special needs.

Nevertheless, the motivation of Ms. Říhová and Ms. Jelínková even goes beyond the classroom. Apart from the school in Poděbrady, they have also been imparting accredited courses for other schools and individuals who wanted to learn how to use the iPad in education for people with disabilities and the best apps for doing so, as both of them have the title of Apple Certified Trainer. Financed by the European Union, they have organized workshops and seminars in almost all regions of the Czech Republic, in which dozens of parents had the opportunity to get to know more about how useful iOS devices could be for improving the lives of their most beloved family members. People with special needs now have access to a better education.