EDF-Oracle Scholarship Winner: “Not enough research on digital learning for kids with disabilities”

11 December 2018

EDF and Oracle are pleased to announce that Ms Maria Isabel Santos is the winner of the 2018 edition of the EDF-Oracle e-accessibility scholarship.

The scholarship was awarded on the 22nd of October by MEP Olga Sehnalová, Mr Thorkild Olesen, EDF Board Member, and Mr Karl Cox, Vice President of Global Public Affairs at Oracle. The ceremony took place in the European Parliament.

MEP Sehnalová smiles to Mrs Santos


Ms Santos won the award due to research she developed for her doctoral thesis at the Universidade de Aveiro, Portugal. She developed a platform called LEMA – “Learning Environment on Mathematics for Autistic Children”, which is an open-access platform designed to be complement formal education.

Ms Santos remarked that “Digital learning’s benefits to teach math to kids with autism are under-researched. There was no digital learning environment that could complement education regarding this subject.”

She highlighted the lack of tools to fully realise inclusive education: “Teaching staff still face a lot of challenges and these themes are not studied enough.”

She also feels that, despite her ground-breaking research, the area is still vastly underfunded: “We are looking for more funds to further develop the platform. We only managed to develop it until the third version – at the moment, the project is only a prototype. We need more activities.”

MEP Sehnalová, Ms Santos, Mr Olesen and Mr Cox pose with the certificate

The difficulties in funding expressed by Ms Santos are common in disability research.

This is why EDF and Oracle have created the e-accessibility scholarship, which rewards an annual grant to a student in a promising  area of research.

The award was selected by a jury composed of: Mr. Humberto Insolera, EDF Executive Committee member and Chair of the EDF ICT expert group; MEP Olga Sehnalová, Member of the European Parliament, co-chair of the Disability Intergroup and shadow rapporteur of the European Accessibility Act; Mr. Kent Boucher, Accessibility Program Director for Oracle; Mr. Axel Leblois, President and Executive Director of the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICT (G3ICT) TBC; Mr. Shadi Abou-Zahra, Strategy and Technology Specialist Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

The EDF- Oracle Scholarship for 2019 will be launched early in the new year.



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