After a number of focus groups and desk-researches conducted in the partner countries, there are now certain conclusion and recommendations that we can share with the targeted and the general audience as far as the development of online learning platforms for people with disabilities are concerned:
“The information stemmed from the focus groups organised by each of the partners is of high relevance and value in the process of developing a learning e-platform dedicated to young people with various forms of disability. The data gathered suggest the fact that the basic design of the platform must start with analysing and meeting the needs of the users, taking in consideration, in the same measure, the variables resulting from this research.
One of the most important ideas resulting from the focus groups reports is that there is a specific need for flexibility within a future e-learning platform in terms of including a technical capability to adapt the content delivered to various types of disabilities: visual, hearing, mobility etc. Another highlight in the overall report is the fact that a vast majority of the participants explained that the platform would need to combine video, audio and text content in such a way in order to meet the learning needs of as many users as possible, giving easy access and fair opportunity.
A recurring need in most of the groups is connected with the availability of a facilitator that could guide the process online. It is arguable if this facilitator should be part of the online-learning experience ( such as an online moderator) or a person that could directly assist the user during their interaction with the platform.
On the other hand, based on the insight provided within this research, there are some variables that need to be considered when developing the platform such as the skills and competencies of the users in accessing online tools and devices in general. Responders, especially the ones connected with the field, showed that there are situations where the target users / potential learners are not competent in using online tools and devices as tablets, computers or smartphones. This is due either by their physical inability to use common devices without special aid, by the lack of learning opportunities for them to use such devices, because of financial difficulties they are facing or due to the lack of support from their families and peers. Most often there is a combination of two or more of these variables that hinders the ability of certain potential beneficiaries to take advantage of such a platform.
One more issue that must be taken into effect within the design of the platform is the lack of proper equipment within the organizations that will implement the learning tool and also within the very homes of the beneficiaries. Responders in the focus groups indicated this issue as one important barrier in implementing such a platform.
The facilitator or a facilitated process is another issue that needs to be taken into consideration when creating the platform. Most of the experts within the focus groups expressed their concerns about the initial contact with the online tool in the way that it could be possible for some of the users to require initial assistance and preparation.
One highly relevant insight provided by the respondents in the focus group is connected with the form of delivery – this must be short, comprehensive, adapted and packed with information. It could take the form of micro-classes, single activities, and other shortened versions of classic online activities.
Moreover, the necessity to accessibilise the content language wise was a primary request highlighted within the focus groups. According to the majority of responders, each of the partners should be able to deliver the learning platform in their own national language, as a basic accessibility requirement for their target groups.”
Stay tuned for the entire document. It will be made available shortly.
The first project training is also approaching, scheduled between the 2nd and 10th of October in Arad, Romania.