Cynthia Duk homad
Fellow Since 2000
This profile was prepared when Cynthia Duk homad was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2000.
The New Idea
Recognizing that existing special education programs are doing little to debunk the long-standing stereotypes about disability, Cynthia Duk is advancing an educational model that promotes the integration of disabled students inside and outside the classroom. Unlike other efforts to introduce disabled students into the normal classroom without providing teachers with the knowledge and skills needed to address the students' special learning needs, Cynthia draws on the expertise and resources of trained special education professionals and existing programs. Through her workshops and seminars, Cynthia brings together teams of integration specialists, which include sociologists, civil engineers, and psychologists, to provide training and ongoing support to public elementary school teachers who are responsible for the adaptation of the academic environment to suit challenged students' needs. By working closely with school teachers, principals, administrators, and parent associations to raise awareness about diversity and break down stereotypes about disabilities, Cynthia introduces integration specialists as a new and valuable resource, expanding their role beyond the immediate handicapped community. She is helping communities become more effective and efficient in their use of resources by shifting priorities and properly integrating disabled people, beginning at the elementary school level.