A CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY ON THE ACADEMIC ATTAINMENT OF VISUALLY IMPAIRED STUDENTS IN SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS.
Background of the study
The use of technology carries with it a great deal of promise in terms of making the general education curriculum accessible to students of all ages and backgrounds. Assistive technology is a catchall term that refers to assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities. According to Reed and Bowser (2019), the term "assistive technology" encompasses "virtually anything that might be used to compensate for lack of certain abilities." Assistive technology can range from low-tech devices such as crutches or a special grip for a pen to more advanced items such as hearing aids and glasses to high-tech devices such A student who has a handicap may benefit from the usage of various equipment and services that fall under the category of "assistive technology." This technology is used to enhance, maintain, or improve the student's skills. Because of the rapidly expanding information and communication technological trends, the number of visually impaired people who have been diagnosed with a condition that requires the use of assistive technology has been rapidly rising across the globe. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that the number of people who are visually impaired will more than double, from 180 million to 360 million, by the year 2020 if joint action is not taken to reduce the prevalence of the problem and also to make assistive technology available to people who are visually impaired. Every individual with a vision impairment has the right to access to education of the same high level as sighted students. This is their fundamental civil and human right. The governments that are members of the United Nations have to come up with workable policies that create equality and quality education for both sighted students and visually impaired students in order to bridge the gap that exists between the access that sighted students have to quality education and the access that visually impaired students have to quality education. As a result of the dominance of information and communication technology in teaching and learning in the world as it exists now, there is an urgent need for assistive technology that can compensate visually impaired people. Learners who are visually impaired are given the opportunity to achieve success in areas in which they would not have been able to succeed in the absence of assistive technology. Several factors, including a lack of knowledge and support from teachers, a high cost of equipment, limited financial resources (Fifield & Fifield, 2020), and eligibility issues for possessing devices, contribute to the difficulties that can arise when attempting to use assistive technology (AT) devices successfully and effectively. According to Johnson (2021), the main reasons for the underuse of assistive technology devices include a lack of knowledge and awareness among people who have disabilities, reluctance to use the devices, poor device performance, changes in needs or priorities, and feelings of stigmatization. Technology and Handicapped People was a report that was published in 1997 by the United States Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), which acknowledged the potential of assistive technology in compensating for functional limitation and extending the capability of people with disabilities (Galvin, 2019). In order to achieve one's educational objectives, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Amendments mandated that the provision of assistive technology devices and services be taken into consideration during the Individualized Education Program (IEP) formulation process. According to Kelly and Smith (2021), in general, assistive technology can enable students who are visually impaired to achieve educational success and gain competitive employment by providing tools for increased independent access to information and for effective communication. Assistive technology can also enable students who are hearing impaired to achieve educational success and gain competitive employment. [Citation needed] The current challenge is to provide appropriate access to and instruction on blindness and low vision specific assistive technology. This can be accomplished by conducting individualized assessments of assistive technology needs, providing appropriate instruction in the use of assistive technology as tools, and distributing assistive technology in an equitable manner. Therefore, the study examines the contributions of Assistive technology on the academic attainment of visually impaired students in senior secondary schools.
Statement of the problem
According to the findings of an assessment conducted by Sight Saver in 2015 to assess the efficacy of the existing system for providing educational help to children who have visual impairment, the ratio of essential ATs to visually impaired students in Kenyan schools has to be bridged. According to the findings of the research, the majority of the learners were not attending school because the complexity and incompatibility of ATs prevented them from doing so. Therefore, it is necessary to determine how compatibility and complexity impact the teaching and learning of individuals with visual impairments (VI learners). According to the findings of the Sight Savers research from 2015, there was a significant gap between the needs of visually impaired students and the assistive technologies that were readily accessible. For example, in a class of 46 students, five students needed to use a dolphin pen on one computer. In order to confirm this, study data were required. Assistive equipment such as a Duxbury Braille Translator, a Hools Dolphin Pen, and Jaws for Windows may be found at the Nigerian Institute of Special Education (Ministry of Education, 2015). These technological advancements cannot be used across the board because of their prohibitive costs. This demonstrates that there is a difficulty in the teaching and learning of visually impaired pupils, which in turn affects the academic achievement of students. Hence, the study aims to examine the contributions of Assistive technology on the academic attainment of visually impaired students in senior secondary schools.
Objective of the study
The general objective of the study is to examine the contributions of Assistive technology on the academic attainment of visually impaired students in senior secondary schools. The specific objectives is as follows:
Determine whether there is an adequate provision of assistive technology for impaired students in Pacelli School in Lagos state
To examine the impact of assistive technology on the academic attainment of visually impaired in Pacelli School in Lagos state.
To investigate the challenges affecting the use of Assistive technology among visually impaired students in Pacelli School in Lagos state.
The study will be guided by the following questions;
Is there an adequate provision of assistive technology for impaired students in Pacelli School in Lagos state?
What are the impact of assistive technology on the academic attainment of visually impaired in Pacelli School in Lagos state?
What are the challenges affecting the use of Assistive technology among visually impaired students in Pacelli School in Lagos state?
Significance of the study
The findings of the study would help the Ministry of Education, Nigeriain improving on inclusive type of an education aiming at ensuring teaching and learning. This study could be useful in informing government policies especially related to education of visually impaired learners. This study could be important in the management of various secondary schools on how they can integrate assistive technology in teaching and learning.
The study will be significant to the academic community as it will contribute to the existing literature.
Scope of the study
The scope of this study borders on the contributions of Assistive technology on the academic attainment of visually impaired students in senior secondary schools. Hence the study is delimited to Pacelli School for the blind and partially sighted children. Lagos
Limitation of the study
It is not an overstatement that a work of this nature cannot be carried out without some hard experience, however below are some of the constrains to this work.
There are many limitations ranging from not knowing where to start, not knowing who to consult or approach for materials not knowing what next to write in various segment of this study and not actually knowing who to put me through in achieving my work and others are:
1. Stress from other academic activities is one of the limitations to the research work
2. Financial constraint to travel to different places.
3. Duration for the research work is relatively short.
1.8 Definition of terms
Assistive technology: any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.
Academic attainment: the highest level of education that a person has successfully completed.