An Analysis of ICT-based e-learning assistive technologies for blind students : a case study of Kenyatta University.
Mbui, Samuel Mwangi
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The power of ICT in facilitating learning has increased in the recent past. ICT has enabled many people to access educational resources. In particular ICT has enabled e-learning programs in many Universities the world over. However ICT based e-learning poses accessibility issues with the blind students, who cannot access e-learning resources through the conventional methods used by the sighted students.E-learning platforms such as Ilearn, Moodle, eXe or WikiEducator, have been commonly used to post e-learning resources. Several assistive technologies such as JAWS sreen reader, the Dolphin pen, and braille display software have been developed to aid the blind students access e-learning resources. However, it has not been established whether these assistive technologies can help the blind to access all educational resources posted on e-learning platforms. The study therefore analyzed the ICT-based assistive technologies that were being used in Kenyatta University (KU) to incorporate the blind students in e-learning programs, the effectiveness of these assistive technologies and identified technological challenges faced when incorporating the blind students in the E-learning program.The study also proposed an abstract framework for addressing the challenges identified.The study adopted a diagnostic case study at KU targeting the academic staff in special education department, ICT resource centre for visually impaired and the blind students. The study established that most blind students pursued courses that were not their favorite due to the inaccessibility issues posed by assistive technologies.This limited the level of education to which the blind could achieve. The study concludes that the available assistive technology was not adequate to develop the academic potentials of the blind fully.The researcher recommended the development of an assistive technology that could access and display coded 3-dimensional graphics that could be interpreted through touch. The study suggested a framework to develop that technology.