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Title: Using assistive technology: the experiences of students with disabilities in a distance learning university
Author: Thomas, Elaine M.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3521 0161
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2008
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There is little research on the experiences of students with disabilities in higher education or on their use of assistive technology (A1) in distance learning settings. Provision ofAT may be considered a 'reasonable adjustment' which United Kingdom universities are legally obliged to make to include disabled students. This study focused on the experiences of undergraduate students with disabilities studying part-time by distance learning. The literature survey suggested that AT, particularly Information and Communication Technologies (lCT) equipment, has immense potential to enable disabled students to participate in educational opportunities. However, the use of ICT in learning without consideration of the needs of disabled students can present barriers to participation. Data was collected using a mixed methods research design involving a quantitative survey followed by qualitative interviews. The study suggests that computers with internet access were particularly important in enabling access to educational opportunities for these students, but that a wide range of AT supports were in use. The proportion of participants using disability-specific technologies was small. Much equipment was mainstream or adaptable, but was essential for disabled students. Participants were using various forms of AT to gain access to learning opportunities, to produce material for assessment and to assist the learning process. A factor model comprised of institutional, technological and personal factors that influenced the successful use of AT was derived from 'the literature review and empirical evidence. The study suggests that failure to consider factors in the model when providing AT results in barriers to participation for disabled students.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available