INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY FOR PERSONS WITH ?· INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES…

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<ul><li><p>1</p><p>INNOVATIONANDTECHNOLOGYFORPERSONSWITHDISABILITIES</p><p>NabilEid</p><p>1.Introduction</p><p>One of the disabled students at an information technology (IT) course answered,whenaskedwhyhewasdoingthecourse,Iwanttoshowtheworldthat,thoughitmaybetruethatIamdisabled,Iamnotdisqualified.Disabledbutnotdisqualifiedthisisthemottounder which governments, organizations, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) andprivatesectorsareworkingtogethertoenablepersonswithdisabilities(PwDs)tobecomeintegratedintomainstreamsocietysothattheymayrealizetheirfullpotential.</p><p>With the advent of information and communications technology (ICT), new hopes areemerging forPwDs.Despite thehuge challenges, sincereeffortsarebeingundertaken toimplementtheuseofICTtocounterobstaclesrelatedtodisability.Theinformationsocietyrepresentsatonce significantopportunitiesbutalsopotentialnewbarriers for the socialinclusionofdisabledpeople.</p><p>Information and communications technology and assistive technology offer newopportunities for everyone, but these opportunities are specificallymore significant forPwDs,whouseassistivetechnologyfortheirdailyactivitiestoahigherextentthanpeopleingeneral.Todaysassistivetechnology,which isadaptedtoeveryonesabilities,meansthatdisabledendusersareable toparticipate inallaspectsofsocial lifeonmoreequaltermsthaneverbefore.ItisvitalthatpeopleareabletobenefitonanequalbasisfromtherapiddevelopmentofICT,toenablethemtopartakeinaninclusiveandbarrierfreeinformationsociety.</p><p>2.AJourneyofaThousandMilesBeginswithaSingleStepWeneed information and knowledge inorder tomeet ourbasic needs,makedecisions,movearound,andparticipateinsocial,economicandculturalactivities.ICTisofcoursean</p><p>NabilEidistheExecutiveSecretaryofKN4DCproject,UNESCWA,ChairmanofStudiesCenterforHandicappedResearchandConsultantinICTforinclusionanddevelopmentPwDsinMENAregionhttp://www.telecentre.org/profile/NabilEid.</p></li><li><p>2</p><p>enablingtechnologyandweshouldnot losesightofthisfact. If it isnotproperlyplanned,managedandimplemented,itmightthrowusintosocialgapsorthedigitaldivide.</p><p>TheuseofICTinthefieldofelearningandeducationisveryhighonthepoliticalagendasofArab countries,with considerable effortsmade at national, regional and global levels toaddress the special requirements of persons with disabilities, including appropriateeducational,administrativeandlegislativemeasurestoensuretheirfullinclusion.</p><p>One of the opportunities for connecting these students is through informationcommunication technologies and assistive technology (ICT and AT). ICT and AT for thedevelopment of disabled persons involve adopting appropriate techniques to obtainmaximumbenefit. In addition, theuseof assistive technology (AT) can increasedisabledpersonscapabilitiesandindependencebothinandoutofschoolsettings.Thetechnologiescanbeused forcommunicationandproductivityends,ortoprovidean individualwithanopportunitytoexperiencerecreationalopportunities.</p><p>Individualswithserioussensorydisabilitiessuchasphysicaldisabilities,visual impairmentsor deafness have benefitedmore than any other group of individuals from advances inassistive technologies. The advances in technology for these individuals can lead toincreasedproductivity,employmentandrecreationopportunities.</p><p>Although some progress has beenmade towards disabilityinclusive development, therehavebeenveryfewinitiativesaimedatincludingdisabilityintheMillenniumDevelopmentGoals(MDGs)EducationforAll.</p><p>New teaching methodologies for persons with disabilities include informationcommunication technologiesandassistive technology (ICTandAT).Nopencils,copybooksor books for teaching students with disabilities... Now its all ICT and AT! ICT has thepotential to make significant improvements in inclusion, development, elearning andeducationforstudentswithdisabilities.</p><p>3.StatisticsandFactsheet On average,around10percentof theworldpopulation isdisabledand thisnumber islikelytoincreaseinthenearfutureduetovariousfactors,accordingtotheWorldHealthOrganization(WHO).</p><p> Eightypercentofpersonswithdisabilities live indevelopingcountries,according to theUNDevelopmentProgram(UNDP).</p><p> Disabilityratesaresignificantlyhigheramonggroupswithlowereducationalattainmentinthe countries of theOrganization for Economic Cooperation andDevelopment (OECD),accordingtotheOECDSecretariat.Onaverage,19percentof lesseducatedpeoplehavedisabilities,comparedto11percentamongthebettereducated.</p></li><li><p>3</p><p> TheWorldBankestimatesthat20percentoftheworld'spoorestpeoplehavesomeformof disability, and tend to be regarded in their own communities as the mostdisadvantaged.</p><p> Ninetypercentofchildrenwithdisabilities indevelopingcountriesdonotattendschool,according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO).</p><p> Thegloballiteracyrateforadultswithdisabilitiesisaslowas3percent,and1percentforwomenwithdisabilities,accordingtoa1998UNDPstudy.</p><p>Despitethesechallenges, ICTandAThavethepotentialtomakesignificant improvementstothelivesofstudents,promotingequalityandfosteringthedevelopmentofstudentswithdisabilities. Including these students in theuseof ICT andAT improves their social skills,learning andultimately their employmentopportunities,byproviding thebesteducationpossible,buildingtheircapacitiesanddevelopingimportantlifeskills.</p><p>4.OverallGoal(s)ofEmpoweringPersonswithDisabilitiesthroughTechnologyInformationandcommunicationstechnology(ICT)hasbeenidentifiedasanimportantaspectofthewiderstrategyforthesocialinclusionofstudentswithdisabilities.Thefollowingaresomeofthecommonapproachesutilized:</p><p>4.1.DistanceeLearningThe distance learning home is accessible to studentswith disabilities. Distance coursesallowstudentswithdisabilitiestocontinuelivingathomewhiletheyarestudying,tosharedocuments, lessons, exchange ideas and make presentations. Using a computer is acommoncomponentofthetrainingandstudyingprocess.</p><p>4.2.ReadingdigitalandaudiolibrariesStudentswithintellectual,hearingorreadingdisabilities,impairedsight,dyslexiaandotherdisabilities are now able to follow educational courses via digital and audio libraries,accessingtheirmaterial,contentandresourcesviatheInternet.Studentscanconnectfromhomeandreadorheartherelevantbooks,withouthavingtogotothe localuniversityorlibrary.</p><p>4.3.Internet,broadbandforpersonswithdisabilitiesPeople with disabilities are today using the Internet, which builds their capacity tocommunicatewitheachotheratadistance.Using the Internethelps them togatherandunderstandpublic informationandnews,toparticipate in leisure interestswithothers,tochat,shop,managetheirfinances,andwritetoauthoritiesandfriends.Acomputerwitha</p></li><li><p>4</p><p>broadband connection provides opportunities for improved participation in everyday lifeandindependentliving.</p><p>4.4.WinningcommunicationPersons with disabilities are now able to communicate with others online, taking elearningcoursesandinteractingwiththeinstructorandotherstudentsthroughonlinediscussion forums. Since learners often find it hard to manage synchronouscommunication, theymayexperienceproblemsworkingon themanyelementsactivesimultaneouslyduringanonlinecourse.Themoderatororfacilitatorofthecoursewillthereforeensurethatalllearnersunderstandandactontheinformationpresented.Themoderator will also monitor the relationship between what is happening on screen,whatthepresentermaybesaying,andwhatisappearinginprint.Inthecaseofonlinediscussionforlearnerswhoaredeaf,forexample,participationinaudioconferencesorvideoconferenceswillnotbepossible.Anotherexampleisonlinediscussion for learnerswithmobility impairments; thesestudentscanmakeuseofanalternative keyboard or speech input software to access the online course andparticipateinwrittencommunication.InArabcountries,wearelackingmoderatorsforsynchronouscommunicationineducationandelearningonthesewebsites.4.5.AccesspointsforpersonswithdisabilitiesindisadvantagedcommunitiesincludeICTtelecentersandATcenters.These centers,particularlyabundant in theMiddleEast andNorthAfrica (MENA) region,maximizetheuseofITskillsforthewelfareofdisabledstudentsinruralanddisadvantagedcommunities. They also promote public awareness of the fact that PwDs can be fullyoperational andwork proficiently in society by using adaptive technology. But the keyquestionishowmanyassistivetechnologycentersarethereinArabregions?Ifeelthatthenumberisverylimited.</p><p>5.EmpowermentoftheTargetGroup</p><p>The approach used by ICT and AT for developing students with disabilities is to adoptfeasibletechniquestoattainmaximumbenefitfromtheuseofICTforstudents.Todoso,itmakesuseofallformsofprovisionwithinspecialeducationsettingsasaresultofnationalorregionalpolicyinArabregions.</p><p>Someoftheapproachesusedare:</p><p> Directtrainingindisabilitycases,throughspecialists,developers,specialeducationteachersand volunteers.</p><p> Indirecttrainingthroughcommunicationwithhouseholdsanddisabledparents.</p></li><li><p>5</p><p> Exchangeofexpertisewiththeotherinterestedagencies,universities,researchersandspecialists.</p><p> Implementationofspecialelearningnetworksfordisabledteachersandstudentstoexchangelessons,coursesandinformationamongthemselves.</p><p>Forexample, IcreatednetworkICTandAT4DPwDs,acommunityofpeople,researchersandorganizationsworkingtogethertoimprovethesocialandeconomicimpactofPwDs.Formoreinformation,visithttp://ict4dpwd.ning.com.</p><p>Directonline support for studentswithdisabilities so that they can inquireabout certainservicesandsuitablesupportandconsistentfollowupforthedisabledthroughsurveysandstatistics,providingguidance fordisabledstudentstohelp them locateeducators throughICT.</p><p>Thiscanbeimplementedthroughspecialeducationteachers andregionalspecialistworkgroups.Formoreinformation,visitwww.telecentre.org/group/telecentrefordisabilities.</p><p>6.TheBenefitsofICTineLearningandImprovingCapabilitiesofStudentswithDisabilitiesBasically,weallbelieveinaninformationsocietyforall,andthistargetcanbeachievedthroughaseriesofsteps;forexample,buildingandsupportingknowledgecenters/telecentersinremoteanddisadvantagedcommunitiesallovertheworld,specificallyinpooranddevelopingcountries,whichshouldbestructuredinsuchawayastolookaftertheneedsofthedisabled.</p><p> ICT is useful in improving a persons quality of life by enhancing effectiveness ofteaching,developing lifeskills;complementing learning inspecialneedseducation,andexploringotherrelatedissues.</p><p> ICT enables disabled students to gain access to the curriculum and supportedlearning,andprovidesaplatformfordisabledtrainerstopromotetheirskills.</p><p> ICTcanbecomparedtoamagicstickwandwillhelpdisabledstudentstogetaheadthrough capacity building and empowerment, subsequently combatingpovertyamong thedisabledwithin their communities, ifutilized in a coordinated,plannedandappropriatemanner.</p><p> ICT isheraldedasenablingPwDstoparticipate fullyandtoenhancethesocialandeconomic life of their communities. Combinedwith propermethodologies, it canofferindividualsthecapacitytocompensateforphysicalorfunctionallimitations.</p><p> ICT isa significant force in termsof choiceandopportunity fordisabled students,andasignificantmeansofbridgingthisgap.</p><p> ICT offers the old and young alike an opportunity to overcome social barriers to</p></li><li><p>6</p><p>interaction and communication that can be caused by the lack of provision forimpairmentsorlifelonglimitingillness.</p><p> ICThasalsobeenidentifiedasplayingasignificantroleinofferingseverelydisabledpeopleanincreaseddegreeofindependenceintheireverydaylives.</p><p> ICT provides disabled persons with an improved quality of life and offers thepossibilityofaccessingknowledgebyadaptingdigitalmedia to thenatureof theirdisabilities.</p><p>7.TechnologyforPersonswithDisabilitiesThereisnowageneralconsensusthatforstudentswithdisabilitiestoshareinthebenefitsofnewtechnology,theuseoftechnologyforstudentsinthefieldofeducationhastremendouspotentialinalleviatingparticularproblemsassociatedwithspecificdisabilitiesaswellasmakingemploymentopportunitiesavailableforpersonswithanintellectualorphysicaldisability,orvisualorhearingimpairment.Thisisachievedthroughspecializedcomputerprogramsandmodelsthatenhancethecapacityofthedisabled,bysharingtheteachingandlearningskills,successesandchallengesoffelloweducatorsworkingwithstudentswithdisabilities.</p><p>In 2009, we launched a new project, RPoA, to build the information society throughinformation and communications technology for the development of persons withdisabilities(ICT4DPwDs).ThisregionalprojectwasafollowuptotheoutcomeoftheWorldSummitontheInformationSociety,UNESCWA,andinvolvedSyria,Lebanon,Egypt,Sudanand Yemen. But so far, the project has not been effectively activated, despitecommunicationwitha lotoforganizations intheArabregion.Formoredetailsabouttheproject,visit:</p><p>http://css.escwa.org.lb/ictd/850/Track3/Nabil_EidRPoA_ICT4D_PWD.pdf</p><p>8.ELearningandEducationofStudentswithDisabilities</p><p>Elearning,orelectroniclearningisfastbecomingtheleadingmodeofdistancedeliveryinadult education,with an increasing diversity among learners; asmore learners becomeengaged in elearning, instructors and course developers are finding that the pool oflearners isbecoming increasinglydiverse.Amongthe learnerswhoaccessadulteducationthroughelearning,aproportionwillbethosewhohavelearningchallenges.ElearningandeducationmeettheacceleratingneedsofourcommunitiesinArabcountries.</p></li><li><p>7</p><p>Thenumberofcasesofstudentswithdisabilities inoursocieties,especially inremoteanddisadvantagedcommunities,hasincreased.Forthisreason,weneedtoworkwithgroupsofdevelopers, researchers, teachers and volunteers to combat this situation, as well toestablishworkplansandtolookatthemeasuresandeffortsmadesofartorealizethisgoal.</p><p>Working closelywith specialeducation teachers, volunteers and donors,we develop themost effective elearning strategies and find ways in which instructors and coursedeveloperscanprepare theirelearningcourseswithaview tomaximizing learning forallstudents, including thosewith disabilities. The aim is to establish a universal design forlearning, best practice teaching strategies and accessibility guidelines thatwill reducebarriersinanelearningenvironment.</p><p>Forexample,intheStudiesCenterforHandicappedResearch(SCHR),wehaveappliedafewprinciplesofuniversaldesigntolearning,asfollows:</p><p> LikeWorktoincreaseeducationparticipationearningsandthequalityofeducationforgroupsthatexperiencepersistentbarrierstoeducation,includingstudentswithdisabilities.</p><p> Improveoveralleducationoutcomesforstudentsbyextendingsustainableeducationobjectives.</p><p> Encouragethedevelopmentofarangeofoptionsrecognizingthediverseneedsofdisabledpeople.</p><p> Ensurethatstudentswithdisabilitieshavethesameeducationandinclusionconditions.</p><p> EnsurethatICTmethodsofferedtothegeneralpublicavailableinformatsappropriatetothedifferentneedsofdisabledstudents.</p><p>MoredetailsaboutSCHRandbestpracticecanbefoundontheselinks:http://www.caihand.orghttp://www.epractice.eu/en/cases/ict4dev</p><p>9.PersonswithDisabilitiesMovingfromIsolationtoIntegration</p><p>Ourgoalsareto:</p><p> Designa learningprofileofeachstudent(disabled):Bybeingawareofthe learningstyles, work level, reasoning ability, classroom participation, comprehension andprogressofastudentwithdisability.</p><p> Develop effective teaching techniques:Developormodify curricula and testing toensurethatdisabledstudentsobtain the informationandskillstheyneedandthattheyareevaluatedaccordingly.</p></li><li><p>8</p><p> Provideindi...</p></li></ul>

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