With the influence of technology on our daily lives, the use of IT in the field of education was inevitable. Technology challenges traditional methods of teaching and learning, and while the advent thereof has assisted able-bodied learners, it has vastly changed – and improved – the learning process for disabled learners.
Disabilities restrict someone’s movement, senses and and/or activities, and result in that person being disadvantaged or handicapped in some way (Oxford). Disabilities can make learning in a traditional classroom challenging. Using IT to educate disabled learners allows them to learn at their own pace, in their own space, in an environment free from judgment and distraction. For example, when making use of online learning.
Other examples of IT used in educating disabled learners include:
- Text-to-speech and speech-recognition software
Pinantoan (2012) refers to Professor Stephen Hawking, an ALS sufferer, who makes use of text-to-speech computer software, where he only has to type a few letters and the computer translates them into a synthesised voice. This IT has also changed the learning process for blind or visually-impaired learners.
- Speech-to-text software:
This software translates speech into text and is beneficial to hearing-impaired learners.
- Augmented reality
Major developments are taking place in the use of augmented reality (AR) to improve the educational experience of disabled learners. “Looking Glass” is a pair of AR spectacles that, when worn by deaf learners, translates speech into text in real-time.
In schools or societies where this infrastructure does not exist or is limited, as is the case in South Africa, disabled learners are subjected to unequal and inadequate education. It is imperative that this situation be corrected in order to allow them to access material, communicate their ideas and work, and participate in educational experiences. Computer-based educational technology focuses on accessibility and offers flexibility that these learners often aren’t granted, making the learning process adaptable (Pinantoan, 2012).
Contribution by: Natasha Allie (0307848X)
Pinantoan, A, 11 September 2012. Learning Difficulties: What Can Technology Do for Disabled Leaners? www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/what-can-technology-do-for-disabled-learners/. Accessed on 27 April 2016.