Original Research

Self-devised assistive techniques by university students with learning disabilities

Ndakaitei Manase
African Journal of Disability | Vol 12 | a1106 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v12i0.1106 | © 2023 Ndakaitei Manase | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 June 2022 | Published: 27 January 2023

About the author(s)

Ndakaitei Manase, College of Education, Institute for Open and Distance Learning, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Access to assistive technology for disabilities is limited in low-resource settings. Therefore, existing research focuses on accessibility challenges. This article focuses on how students with learning disabilities manage learning in the absence of assistive technology, a subject that receives less scholarly attention.

Objectives: This article aims to provide insights on how students with learning disabilities manage learning in the face of limited access to assistive technology. It explores conversion factors that influence access to assistive technology.

Method: This qualitative study used semistructured interviews to collect data from students with learning disabilities and respective university staff members who were recruited using convenience and snowballing techniques. Data were analysed thematically and supported by thick descriptions of experiences.

Results: This study established that students have limited access to assistive technology, and they manage learning through self-devised means that are more socially than technologically or scientifically inspired such as self-affirmation, animal therapy, family support and prayer. Conversion factors, which affect ability by either enabling or constraining access to assistive technology, were identified at personal and institutional or environmental levels.

Conclusion: The article concludes that even though students with learning disabilities devise unconventional assistive ways to manage learning, failure to access assistive technology is a capability deprivation that promotes inequalities.

Contribution: This article provides insights that shift perspectives that students with disabilities are passive recipients of support; rather, they can be active agents who innovate nontechnological ways to manage learning in the absence of assistive technology.


Keywords

assistive technology; low-resource settings; learning disabilities; agency; conversion factors; coping strategies.

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