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ICF in the Context of Special Education

Background and aims

In the second half of the 1990s, the education directorate of Canton Zurich embarked on the planning of a comprehensive revision of the elementary school regulations. In terms of special education, a need for development was especially evident as regards the diagnostic assessment of children and young people with special needs.
The education directorate of Canton Zurich announced a corresponding development assignment. In the sense of a co-operation project, the execution was entrusted to the Pädagogische Hochschule Zürich (represented by Prof. Dr. Judith Hollenweger) and the Interkantonale Hochschule für Heilpädagogik (represented by Prof. Dr. Peter Lienhard). The aim of the assignment is to provide a practice-orientated diagnostic process for the allocation of pupils to special educational procedures at Zurich elementary schools.
The procedure developed is orientated towards the areas of the ICF ("International Classification of Functional Ability, Disability and Health" of the WHO) and provides two versions for interdisciplinary situational discussions. During the course of the project, the procedure was tried out in over 20 schools and constantly improved. The procedure is described in the form of an approximately 50-page recommendation and in a 2-page information leaflet. The available instruments are preparatory forms and protocol sheets. In order to ensure that almost all parents are included, the preparatory forms and the brief information leaflet are issued in eight languages,
At the end of 2004, the educational council of Canton Zurich decided to continue testing the procedure, but not yet to publish it on a large scale. Interested schools can request the procedure in the form of a CD-ROM from the education directorate.


Interested schools can request the procedure in the form of a CD-ROM from the education directorate.

luzia.annen[at] Luzia.annen



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Forschung und Entwicklung
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