onder islek

Önder İŞLEK, Aksaray University

Investigation into Experienced School Curriculum Balance and Its Influence on Preparedness to be Independent for Individuals with Visual Impairments in Turkey and Hawaii

Hosted by Dr. Hye-Jin Park at the Center on Disability Studies (CDS) from December 16, 2021 to September 30, 2022

Academic Background:

  • Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education at Department of Special Education, Aksaray University
  • Holds a PhD in Disability, Inclusion, and Special Needs (specialization: visual impairment) (2017) from the University of Birmingham, and a Master of Arts in Special Education (2021) from San Francisco State University

Research interests:

  • The role of schools in preparedness and promoting independence in students with disabilities
  • The lives of individuals who are blind and visually impaired

Talk-story event: April 21, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm HST, virtual via Zoom (https://hawaii.zoom.us/j/92351465020)

onder iskar

I was born in a village in the southern part of Turkey, only 15 miles away from the Syrian border. I am one of 9 siblings, of a mother who never had a chance to attend school and a father who went to only primary school for five years. Besides my visual impairment, I had to deal with the challenge of not being able speak the Turkish language until starting school. Since there was no provision for students with a disability and second language learners, I did not have a pleasant schooling experience. Therefore, I wanted to be an educator who is different than the ones I encountered throughout my education journey. After finishing my training in early childhood education and working both in public and private schools in Turkey, I travelled to the USA to do my master’s degree. I finished my MA in Special Education with an emphasis in teaching students with visual impairments at San Francisco State University. Later on, I travelled to the UK to obtain my PhD in Disability, inclusion, and Special Needs at the University of Birmingham.

Since 2017, I have been working as an assistant professor for Aksaray University in Turkey, in their Faculty of Education’s Department of Special Education. I have been teaching a number of classes in special education to teacher candidates who will become both subject teachers and special education teachers. In addition, I established a master’s degree which is one of the first of its kind in Turkey on adaptive physical education and sports for individuals with disabilities. I also served as a disability coordinator for my entire university up until my current visit to the University of Hawai‘i.

While conducting research as an early career Fulbright researcher at CDS, I will be gathering data from individuals with blindness and visual impairments and their educators with regards to the level of the Expended Core Curriculum (ECC) instruction delivered, barriers and enablers in delivering instruction, and consequences of this level of instruction on the lives of individuals, specifically on preparedness and the promotion of independence.

I am very open to meeting new people, learn from them, and gain different experiences. UHM’s College of Education and the Center on Disability Studies specifically is home to a number of very well known researchers in their areas. Whilst here, I would love to meet as many people as possible and establish potential future collaborations. I also enjoy swimming, hiking, camping, fishing, kayaking, etc. My biggest hobby is traveling – I have been to about 60 countries across five continents so far.

COE Affiliation

Center on Disability Studies