Olaniran et al (2019) Disabilities Among Youths in Open and Distance Learning: Contexts, Concerns and Propositions

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Categories: Paper, Youth Voice Journal



Open and Distance Education is believed by many as one of the keys to addressing critical problems facing higher education and skills development in developing nations. While there is broad consensus on the importance of using Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode to train young people for teaching profession because of the current huge demand for teachers in many developing nations, there is dearth of research about how learners with disabilities in ODL cope with the dynamics of learning by distance. This study employed purposive sampling technique to explore the perception of 59 youths living with disabilities that enrolled on ODL-based teacher training programme regarding the suitability of content, methods and technologies used by their institution to their ability. These were undergraduate students studying to obtain Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) through distance learning in South Africa. An online based questionnaire was designed and circulated to the respondents to provide answers to four research questions raised in the study. The findings revealed that while the university strives to make higher education affordable and accessible to all, it does not take care of the special needs of some of the students who enrolled on its programmes. Needed supports included, designing contents and technologies that will aid the learning of those with disabilities such as hearing and sight impairments. The study also recommended a rethinking of traditional approaches to accommodating students with disabilities in distance learning such as engagement of psychologists and social workers to relate with students virtually in order to identify those with disabilities and offer suggestions and support services that could aid their learning.

Key Words: Disabiities, open and distance learning, youths, special needs, support

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