Towards Disability-Aware Social Media-Enriched Virtual Learning Environments

Towards Disability-Aware Social Media-Enriched Virtual Learning Environments

Julius T. Nganji
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3476-2.ch057
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The increasing use of social media brings about the need to consider learners with disability when designing learning environments incorporating social learning. Additionally, there is need for educational institutions to consider social media-enriched learning environments. By default, designers and developers of virtual learning environments tend to design for learners without disabilities. The consequences for learners with disabilities are enormous. This chapter aims to propose a disability-aware approach to designing social learning environments that advocates that stakeholders consider the needs of learners with disabilities throughout development. The challenges that learners with disabilities face when interacting with learning systems are reviewed, and a disability-aware approach to designing social learning environments is presented, examining how this could be practically implemented. The opinions and recommendations of 48 students with disabilities from two universities in the United Kingdom and Canada are presented.
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Literature Review

To lay the foundation, and in order to better understand some of the requirements for developing disability-aware social media enriched Virtual Learning Environments (VLE), this section reviews literature relating to the difficulties that people with disabilities face while interacting with learning environments, some assistive technologies for interacting with learning environments, social learning and also reviews some approaches used in designing learning systems.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Assistive Technology: A piece of software or device that allows a person with disability to interact with an information system without difficulty.

Disability: A physical or mental condition that may limit an individual's ability to fully utilize their senses such as vision and hearing and could thus limit their use of information systems, particularly when they are not designed accessibly.

Subtitles: These are texts displayed in a video usually serving as a translation of the words spoken in the video into another language so that people who don’t understand the language of the video could understand what it is all about.

Induction Loop: Also known as hearing loop, this is an assistive listening device which works by amplifying sound for an individual who can only hear partially and may not be able to distinguish speech when there is noise.

Transcript: In the context of this chapter, it is a text version of a video that is produced for an individual with hearing impairment, to facilitate understanding of the words spoken in the video.

Assistive Listening Device: This is a device which helps to improve hearing for people with hearing impairment.

Usability: This refers to how easy it is for an end user to use an information system.

Accessibility: The design of information systems such that they can be used by everyone, regardless of their ability or disability.

Disability-Aware Learning System: Learning system that considers the needs of users with disabilities and adjusts to their needs without them having to seek extra assistive technology in order to interact with it.

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