Labs, Hubs & Foruns

Inclusive Community Forum


ICF's Academic Approach to Education

Since the very beginning, ICF has sought academic robustness. Thus, in the context of the theme of Education, it has relied on following a new working methodology - System Change.

System Change is one of the methodologies used to solve particularly complex and comprehensive problems, acting on the system as a whole for its full transformation.

Thus, System Change, put into practice under the guidance of Professor Silvia Herrero, brings to ICF the necessary academic complement and greater robustness to the process while allowing a greater and even more active community involvement. The community is called upon to develop the work, from the analysis of the current context to the design and implementation of solutions in the field. The final result thus being the fruit of the community.

Despite the complexity and scope of the current challenge (strengthening the empowerment of people with disabilities for working life), ICF is confident in the positive transformation of this context thanks to the methodology used, the experience and knowledge of the academic management, and the active and enthusiastic involvement ICF has witnessed from its community.


Find out more about ICF's projects in the field of education:

The Process

After choosing the second central theme, ICF's team made an objective diagnosis to identify the main obstacles that impact people with disabilities transition to working life. The diagnosis was made based on interviews and focus group sessions on getting a broad and correct insight into reality.

Thus, from May to July 2019, ICF contacted more than 60 people to grasp the current education context for people with disabilities in Portugal. Thirty-six interviews were conducted with a very diverse audience – people with disabilities, family members, members of government, members of social institutions in the area of disability, and members of school institutions – and four focus groups (schools, higher education, social institutions, and companies) were created involving a total of 28 people.

This diagnosis made it possible to outline the context of people with disabilities' empowerment for working life and put it in the picture – the Systemic Map. It is composed of several variables that relate to each other, in a logic of interdependence, revealing the complexity of the context and the need to work on it collectively. The diagnosis allowed to conclude which of the variables in the context would most directly contribute to strengthening the skills of people with disabilities for working life. The main variables were classified, numbered, and highlighted in green on the system map below.

The participants of the Inclusion LABs began their work based on the analysis of this systemic map, starting by choosing the key variable that each one wanted to work on (taking into account their power of influence and contribution) and ending by co-creating and testing initiatives and solutions for each one of the variables in question.

Collective Agenda

According to the Systemic Change (the methodological approach adopted by ICF for Education), the "Collective Agenda" is the set of solutions and the way they are related to each other that enhances the resolution of a complex and comprehensive problem.

With the awareness that a complex problem is the result of a multiplicity of factors whose responsibility lies with a plurality of community agents, its resolution is only possible if it is thought out and developed as a whole, together with all the actors who are in a position to contribute to it.

This is how the 41 participants of the Inclusion LABs came to this "Collective Agenda" – this set of interconnected solutions – which is constantly changing and is updated as the community involved acts on solving the problems encountered.

This agenda aims to act in seven different strands diagnosed as the main variables that contribute most directly to the final objective – strengthening the skills of people with disabilities for their working life.

System Map

Main goal: to strengthen the empowerment of people with disabilities to an active life.