Disability, Chronic Illness, and Distance Education

Disability, Chronic Illness, and Distance Education

Christopher Newell (University of Tasmania, Australia) and Margaret Debenham (Independent Scholar, UK)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch092
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Abstract

Distance education may be seen as both enabling and disabling in its application to, and relationship with, people with disability and chronic illness. Cutting edge work suggests that it can provide a suitable route to support the studies of students with disabilities and those with long-term health problems. However it is important that this should be regarded in terms of providing choice to students rather than requiring those who are identified as having impairment/chronic illness to undertake studies at a distance. Unless well designed and evaluated, as with any technology, DE can also become disabling in its impact (Goggin & Newell, 2003; Newell & Walker, 1992).
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Disability, Chronic Illness and Distance Education (DE)

Distance education may be seen as both enabling and disabling in its application to, and relationship with, people with disability and chronic illness. Cutting edge work suggests that it can provide a suitable route to support the studies of students with disabilities and those with long-term health problems. However it is important that this should be regarded in terms of providing choice to students rather than requiring those who are identified as having impairment/chronic illness to undertake studies at a distance. Unless well designed and evaluated, as with any technology, DE can also become disabling in its impact (Goggin & Newell, 2003; Newell & Walker, 1992).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Virtual Learning Environment: An on-line interactive, integrated learning environment supported on the Internet, usually institution based.

Computer-Mediated Communication: Includes a wide range of applications; for example, web-based applications such as library access, E-mail, computer conferencing, wikis, blogs, video conferencing, audio conferencing, shared whiteboards, material on CD ROM, software permitting on-line ‘virtual’ scientific experiments.

Universal Design: An approach to the design of products and environments fostering usability by as many people as possible, without adaptation.

Chronic Illness: A long-term health condition, usually persisting for more than one year. People may or may not identify as having disability, but it will often impact upon major life functions such as learning.

Deaf People: There are two major types: deaf (or hard of hearing) people who are usually post-lingually deafened and Deaf people who are part of the deaf community. The Deaf culture consists of people who use sign language as their first language and for participating in activities within this community. Socio-linguistically they are a cultural minority.

Disability: There are two basic approaches. The medical model sees disability as a ‘personal tragedy’ or ‘deficit’ located within an individual. The social model argues that it is society that creates disability, with barriers to participation needing to be addressed systemically.

Disablism: Similar to sexism and racism as a concept. Writers such as Oliver (1996) point to the structural and ideological way in which disablism occurs in everyday society.

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