4.1.2 Research in support of evidenced-based policy development

Policy-makers will have to undertake a small number of research studies to support the development of effective policy.108 Very little is known about the provision of ATs in developing countries at present, other than it is very low - only 3 per cent of the number of hearing aids required in any one year become available in that year.109 It is likely that these research efforts will significantly improve the quality and effectiveness of policy measures.

Research into the attitudes of teachers, students and their families or care-givers toward the use and benefits of accessible ICTs will also be necessary. The pedagogical preferences and skills of teachers should be established. Research should also establish the competency of teachers and school systems to develop accessible learning resources and what training supports they may need.

The existence of relevant services already in place should also be established. These include the existence of community-based rehabilitation services, teacher training programmes, and facilities to produce low-tech solutions such as school books in Braille.110

In order to develop evidence-based policy, research will be required on:

  • National demographics on persons with disabilities – the numbers likely to benefit from accessible ICTs in schools/community ICT centers.
  • Current ICT infrastructure within the schools, including the number of computers already in schools and the number of schools connected to the Internet.
  • Current usage of ICTs in schools – i.e., how and for what computers are used.
  • Types and numbers of accessible ICTs required.
  • In-country availability of required accessible ICTs.
  • Likely costs and strategies for development of alternate solutions, including open-source solutions.
  • Preparedness of teachers to incorporate accessible ICTs into their pedagogical practices.
  • Attitudes and knowledge of students, parents and teachers towards accessible ICTs.
  • Availability of support networks.

108 Borg, J. et al. Assistive Technology in developing countries: national and international responsibilities to implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Available at www.thelancetglobalhealthnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/Disability-REV-3.pdf

109WHO. 2004. Guidelines for hearing aids and services for developing countries. Available at http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2004/9241592435_eng.pdf

110Casely-Hayford, L.; Lynch, P. A review of good practice in ICT and special educational needs for Africa. Available at http://www.eldis.org/assets/Docs/14727.html. The report cites Ghana’s Material Resource Centre for the Disabled as an example of a centre which produces learning material for children with disabilities.