Enabling the disabled through acoustic ecology and environmental education by listening to the ecosystem of the turtle

Abstract

Charikleia Minotou, Andreas Mniestris, John D. Pantis, Stefanos Paraskevopoulos

Environmental education and awareness projects foster environmental-friendly attitudes and contribute to the protection of the environment through active participation. Special Environmental Education provides to groups of people with disabilities, opportunities for both education and active participation in environmental protection projects. The science and art of Acoustic Ecology may function as an especially useful educational tool or listening path which could assist students with disabilities to metaphorically cross the listening path of environmental education. The National Marine Park of Zakynthos (NMPZ) is officially recognized as a nesting beach of the sea turtle “Caretta caretta”. Appropriate environmental education material was created for special groups, and particularly for people with visual disabilities, hearing disabilities, as well as for people with mobility disabilities. The above mentioned protected area of the National Marine Park of Zakynthos was chosen as the location for the case study, because it appeared to be an ideal site for environmental education activities that could ‘embrace’ people with disabilities. An interdisciplinary approach was adopted for the development of the environmental education material for special groups, combining Acoustic Ecology with Conservation Education, which is education for ecosystem’s management and conservation. The current research drew on knowledge from these two fields. The educational material was created and successfully implemented, resulting in the participants’ increase of environmental awareness and the development of environmentally friendly attitudes, as demonstrated by the research results. The produced educational material included power point and oral presentations, audiovisual material, interactive activities based on observation, touching and listening, as well as a visualization model of the protected area.

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