ICT Eases Inclusion in Education

ICT Eases Inclusion in Education

Dražena Gašpar (University of Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7365-4.ch030

Abstract

This chapter explores the importance of using ICT in education, focusing on the strong potential of ICT's ability to ease the process of inclusion. Namely, ICT could be a particularly valuable tool for people with disabilities; these tools can improve these individuals' quality of life, reduce social exclusion, and increase social participation. Inclusive education involves focusing on the individual needs of learners, helping them to overcome any barriers that may prevent them from reaching their potential. Through the extensive use of ICT in education, it becomes possible to meet the specific needs of different groups of students, including students with special needs. This chapter presents brief analyses of different supportive technologies, such as hardware and software solutions, Web 2.0 technologies, virtual learning environments (VLEs), virtual worlds, and other similar technologies. The chapter will also stress some open issues, including limitations in interactions, communication, and learning.
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Background

In this paper, the definition of inclusive education, as set out by UNESCO, is adopted: Inclusive education is a process of strengthening the capacity of the education system to reach out to all learners ... As an overall principle, it should guide all education policies and practices, starting from the fact that education is a basic human right and the foundation for a more just and equal society (UNESCO, 2014, p.11). Coupled with the process of inclusion, the term “special educational needs” (SEN) is often used across Europe. This term is frequently adopted to specify learners who encounter barriers to learning, either temporarily or in the long term (EADSNE, 2013, p.6). This definition stresses that the term SEN covers not just learners with disabilities, but all learners who, for various reasons, do not make expected progress for their age. According to this concept, learners with SEN comprise a wider group of students than those with disabilities alone and there are some estimates that these individuals account for around 20% of the school-age population (EADSNE, 2013, p.6).

ICTs that are used to support children, young people, and adults with disabilities, are commonly referred to as assistive technologies (AT), although there is no one single internationally accepted definition for this term. The British Assistive Technology Association (BATA), a social enterprise that focuses on AT for inclusion in education, defines AT as any item, equipment, hardware, software, product or service which maintains, increases or improves the functional capabilities of individuals of any age, especially those with disabilities, and enables them more easily to communicate, learn, enjoy and live better, more independent lives (BATA, 2015, para.2). In this chapter, the BATA definition of AT is used.

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