This presentation is part of the formal panel session, "The Equity Initiative: Building a “Solutions Menu”: Effective Interventions for Children with Disabilities" chaired by Hayley Niad, Cambridge Education
For over twenty years there has been a consensus that educational and accessible technology offer a solution to the challenges of illiteracy in low and medium-income countries. Throughout this period, agencies have both invested and intervened to support the implementation of technology with varying results. In many cases, the needs of learners with special needs or disability have not received attention within those programs and reviews. In addition, in recent years technology has evolved, becoming increasingly portable and pervasive, offering new opportunities and challenges to address the need.
This research paper establishes a baseline of knowledge on the use of technology to advance equitable and efficient access to learning for children with disabilities, providing evidence on the impact of technology on learning outcomes, drawing from multiple projects, particularly in Lesotho and India. Products considered include those on the World Health Organization’s list of Assistive Technologies, (WHO 2016), specifically technologies which have greater impact because of the range of basic education skills and content that can be supported including literacy. The paper posits that while a universal design for learning (UDL) can be applied without technology, technology makes the experience richer for many. If the aim of UDL is to produce students who are purposeful, motivated, resourceful, knowledgeable, strategic and goal-directed, technology lends itself to differentiation and accommodations and provides many options for effective teaching in the classroom.
Based on expert consultations and literature review, the paper recommends how technologies could be made more accessible to implementers through creative utilization of market-drivers and competition, drawing upon the role to be played by agencies across the public, private and not for profit sectors. It also shares important considerations with respect to building an ecosystem for effective and efficient use of accessible and assistive technologies and digital content.