Disabilities and technology: Theirworld research aims to expand inclusive education

Child reading braile

December 2021 – ECDAN partner, Theirworld, has published a new report into assistive technologies in mainstream educational settings.

Theirworld decided to conduct research to identify:

  • What are some of the most effective technologies for students with visual, hearing and learning disabilities?
  • How are they proving to be effective or useful for students with these disabilities, and for their teachers?
  • How can AT be made more available and effective?
  • How can more affordable ways of providing and distributing AT be found?
  • How can awareness be raised about accessibility features on mainstream devices, so they can be more widely used?

We conducted a survey among:

  1. children and adolescents with visual, hearing, or learning disabilities
  2. teachers of children with these disabilities in mainstream schools, and
  3. assistive technology experts and staff members in non-governmental organisations working in the field.

While ample prior research has indicated that students with visual, hearing or learning disabilities perform well academically and on a par with their non-disabled peers when they have access to AT, there is a lack of research citing the voices of these students, their teachers or experts in the field of AT. We wanted to fill this gap by hearing directly from them, and it is our hope that the thoughtful and revealing responses received will assist the development of policies and initiatives that will place children with disabilities on a level playing field with their non-disabled peers.

The input from three types of respondent and their insight on what AT is useful, how to increase access and how to improve training and awareness, enabled the compilation of several recommendations which are contained at the end of the report.