1.2.1 The benefits of accessible ICTs in connected schools
A meta-study on research into use of accessible ICTs showed that it brings the following benefits to all stakeholders involved in education, including students, teachers, parents and care-givers:12
- Enables greater learner autonomy
- Unlocks hidden potential for those with communication difficulties
- Enables students to demonstrate achievement in ways which might not be possible with traditional methods
- Enables tasks to be tailored to suit individual skills and abilities
Benefits for students:
- Computers can improve students' independent access to education
- Students with special educational needs are able to accomplish tasks working at their own pace
- Visually impaired students using the Internet can access information alongside their sighted peers
- Students with profound and multiple learning difficulties can communicate more easily
- Students using voice communication aids are able to gain confidence and social credibility at school and in their communities
- Increased ICT confidence amongst students motivates them to use the Internet at home for schoolwork and leisure interests.
Benefits for teachers and non-teaching staff:
- Reduced isolation for teachers working in special educational fields, enabling them to communicate electronically with colleagues
- Support for reflection on professional practice via online communication
- Improved skills for staff and a greater understanding of access technology used by students
- Enhanced professional development and improved effectiveness in using ICTs with students, through collaboration with peers
- Materials already in electronic form (for example, from the internet) are more easily adapted into accessible resources such as large print or Braille materials.
Benefits for parents and care-givers:
- Use of voice communication aids encourages parents and care-givers to have higher expectations of children’s sociability and potential level of participation.
12BECTA ICT Research (2003) What the research says about ICT supporting special educational needs (SEN) and inclusion. Available at http://research.becta.org.uk/upload-dir/downloads/page_documents/research/wtrs_motivation.pdf