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Today, the greatest challenge confronting the South African disabilities students is to smoothly integrate into academics and at large the society, participate in a competitive educational system and be equipped for the professional economic world. A number of emerging technologies: assistive and adaptive technologies have been developed to cater for these students. This study will determine the Impact of Assistive Technology on Disabilities Students Learning in South African Higher Institutions from a "Students Voice
Perspective". The need for such a study has been highlighted by previous studies of students' experiences, which identified the value of learning from the particular issues that applied to disabled students in higher institutions in South African higher Institutions. With prior studies under this field in mind, this study noted the near impossibility of ascertaining the Impact of Assistive Technology on Disabilities Students Learning in South African Higher Institutions from a Students Voice Perspective solely from observable behaviour and recommended further studies. It is therefore the view of this study that there are many very special issues that will not be fully understood or illuminated by a general study of a cohort that includes only one or two disabled students. Recognising that disabled students are not a homogenous group, students with a wide range of disabilities and experiences of using assistive
technologies in South African higher Institutions, will be included in the study.
The study will contribute to the field of knowledge by developing user-centred participatory methods that produce rich in-depth descriptions of the assistive technology usage experiences of disabled students and help practitioners, support staff, managers, learners and developers address with some confidence the issues faced by disabled students in higher education. This study will have an important impact on wider participation and ease transition issues for those requiring equal access to education in higher institutions in South Africa.
Aims and Objectives
Linked to the information about this study above, this study has an overarching objective which is to promote the development of user-centred methodologies for studying the impacts of technology on disability students and to expose these widely so as to encourage a participatory approach to studying and designing disability students' use of technologies in South Africa Higher Institutions. This goal will be accomplished by implementing the following primary objectives.
To identify different types of ATs available to disability students learning in South African higher institutions.
To determine how disability students feel about using AT to help them learn.
To determine what support disability students receive while use AT in their learning. This can be from University, friends and family.
To determine whether the AT the disability students are using is compatible with their needs.
To determine what problems disability students encounter while using AT and how they are solved.
To determine whether the use of the AT improves academic performance of disability students learning in South African higher institutions.
WHO ARE WE LOOKING TO RECRUIT?
This study is looking to recruit 30 students who are studying at the University (on any programme or course) and who identify themselves as having a disability AND using either, assistive and assistive/enabling technologies as part of their learning and study activities.
For the purposes of the project this study is using the following definitions:
Assistive or Enabling Technologies are any piece of technology you use to help you access your computer or information presented on the computer. Examples would include screen-readers, mind-mapping software, screen magnification software or alternative in-put systems.
In order to enable this study to ensure that the 30 case studies that this study produce represent a broad spectrum of disabilities, needs and experiences of using assistive technology. This study will be asking participants some demographic information about themselves (age, gender, disability etc). This information will be anonymized and will be passed on, confidentially.
WHAT WILL PARTICIPATION INVOLVE?
If you consent to taking part in the study, participation will involve providing some background (demographic information) and telling this study about your experiences of using assistive technology in your studies using a method we have called "Interview".
The "interview" part will involve being interviewed for 30-40 minutes about how you use the technologies defined above to support your learning. The interview will be semi-structured and will be based on the questions that emerged from this study's consultations with students in phase one of the study. If you choose to be interviewed face-to-face this study will negotiate with you a venue that feels comfortable and safe for both you and the interviewer- for example, a seminar room.
WILL MY CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE STUDY BE ABONYMOUS AND CONFIDENTIAL?
This study will negotiate with each participant, whether they wish their interview contributions to be anonymized or not. For those who express a desire to be anonymous, all identifiable information will be removed from data that is made public (e.g. name, course being studied). For those who express a desire not to be anonymous, this will be honoured, provided that disclosure of a participants' identity does not in turn reveal the identity of someone else who has not explicitly expressed a desire to be identifiable). This study will however, work closely with participants to ensure that the potential impact of disclosure of identity on themselves and others is carefully considered.
This study is aware that some of you may wish to talk about negative experiences that may relate to services or staff within the university, but may be reluctant to do so for fear of whether it will get back to the people or services concerned and jeopardise your relationship with them. In these cases this would advise you to elect for your identity to be anonymous. This study can also give you the added assurance that it is not its intention to trace positive or negative experiences back to identifiable staff, programmes or services within the university and anything you tell us that could do this, will be treated in the strictest confidence. The purpose of this study is to draw out from the student experiences general principles or lessons that can be learned, regarding effective ways of promoting the use related technologies in all universities.
Finally, this study is committed to and will abide by the terms of the Data Protection Act. All original un-edited and potentially identifiable contributions/data will be stored on a password protected computer for a period of 12 months and then permanently deleted. No third party will be given access to un-edited and potentially identifiable contributions.
WILL I HAVE ANY CONTROL OVER WHAT ELEMETS OF MY CONTRIBUTIONS ARE MADE PUBLIC?
When this study has conducted each interview and negotiated what the nature of the interview contribution will be with each participant this study will construct a case-study that captures the essence of the total contribution from each participant and send a draft of this case study to each participant for approval before it is made public. Participants can advise us at this point on any element of the case study that they wish to add, delete or amend and can also change their minds about whether they want to be anonymous or not.
ARE THERE ANY CONDITIONS THAT MAY EXCLUDE YOU FROM THIS STUDY?
This study attempts to determine the Impact of Assistive Technology on Disabilities Students Learning in South African Higher Institutions from a Students Voice Perspective. So this means that your contribution to this study will solely be based on that the university identifies you as being a disabled student and that your also a fully registered student of the University.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS INVOLVED IN THIS STUDY? Or CAN ANY OF THE STUDY PROCEDURE RESULTS IN PERSONAL DISCOMFORT OR INCOVENIENCES?
Questionnaires: The study and procedure involve no foreseeable physical or inconveniences to you or your family. Due to the personal nature of the questions, you may experience some emotional discomfort especially when you try to describe your experiences of using assistive technology to help you learn that wasn't just to you.
Emotionally sensitive interview: In the interview/s you will be sharing some experiences that might be sensitive and emotionally to you while using assistive technology to help you learn. This process of self-revelation means that you will have to recall emotions, thought and actions regarding your experiences of using assistive technologies to help you learn that could be so traumatic for you. Therefore, this study shall make arrangements with the counsellors at the Student Support Services for you to visit free of charge should you want to talk to one of them for professional therapy.
WILL I RECEIVE ANY FINANCIAL COMPESATION OR INCENTIVES FOR PARTICIPATION IN THE STUDY?
Please note that you will not be paid to participate in the study. However, you will be relaxed as you have aired out your opinions so as to improve future queries that may arise in the use of assistive technologies in learning.
WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS AS A PARTICIPANT IN THIS STUDY?
Your participation in this study is entirely voluntary. You have the right to withdraw any stage without any penalty or future disadvantages whatsoever. You don't even have to provide he reasons for your decision.
IS THE RESEARCHER QUALIFIED TO CARRYOUT THE STUDY?
The primary researcher is doing her Mtevh degree and has friends who are also classified as being disabled.this allows her to be at par with you since she is also close to someone having a disability and has a little understanding of what is going on.
HAS THE STUDY RECEIVED ETHICAL APPROVAL?
No:As it stands right now,this research hasnt yet got ethical approval but its the study's wish is that ethial approval shall be got before the actual interviews do start.
WHO CAN YOU CONTACT FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION REGARDING THE STUDY/
The primary researcher Ms Sharifa Hilal can be contacted anytime at Tel +27823946737 or n her email address [email protected] The study leader ..................................... can be contacted during office hours at Tel ...............................Should you ha any questions regarding the ethical aspects of the study you can contact the chairperson of the TUT Research Ethics Committee, Dr WA Hoffman, during office hours at Tel (012) 82-6265/46.
A FINAL WORD
Your co-operation and participation in the study will be great appreciated. Please sig the underneath informed consent if you agree to participate in the study. In such a case, you will receive a copy of the signed informed consent from the researcher.
I hereby confirm that I have been adequately informed by the researcher about the nature, conduct, benefits and risks of the study. I have also received, read and understood the above written information. I am aware that the results of the study will be anonymously processed into a research report. I understand that my participation is voluntary and that I may, ay\t any stage, without prejudice, withdraw my consent and participation in the study. I had sufficient opportunity to ask questions and of my own free will declare myself prepare to participate in the study.
Research participant's name: (Please print)
Research participant's signature:
Researcher's name: (Please print)
I hereby declare that I have read and explained the contents of the information sheet to the research participant. The nature and purpose of the study were explained, as well as the possible risks and benefits of the study. The research participant has clearly indicated that he/she will be free to withdraw from the study at any time for any reason and without jeopardizing his/her relationship with the researcher or university.
I hereby certify that the research participant has verbally agreed to participate in this study.
Research participant's name: (Please print)
Researcher's name: (Please print)