ICT Solutions for people with Special Needs

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It is critical that the introduction of new technology does not further restrict access to materials among groups already disadvantaged through disability. My Coursework will offer guidance on how to maximize accessibility and will present guidance in relation to the needs of three different groups in turn – those with Dyslexia, Visual Disability/Impairment and Physical Impairment/Having limited use of limbs.

Background

My Coursework will give me the opportunity to investigate the provision of ICT software and hardware, dedicated to people with special needs, and to assess whether this equipment has improved the quality of life of users with special needs.

I will be investigating into the following three specific groups of special needs:

* Having a language difficulty – Dyslexia

* Visual Disability / Impairment

* Physical Impairment / Having limited use of limbs.

First, I must establish the precise meaning of these individual Special Needs, and the differences between. These are shown below:

What is Dyslexia?

The word dyslexia comes from Greek and means ‘difficulty with words’. Today, dyslexia describes a condition in which people have specific difficulties with reading, writing and spelling. It includes similar problems with number work and recognising symbols, such as musical notes or mathematical signs. Dyslexia can cause clumsiness, poor concentration and memory problems.

* Dyslexia causes difficulties in learning to read, write and spell. Short-term memory, mathematics, concentration, personal organisation and sequencing may also be affected.

* Dyslexia usually arises from a weakness in the processing of language-based information. Biological in origin, it tends to run in families, but environmental factors also contribute.

* Dyslexia can occur at any level of intellectual ability. It is not the result of poor motivation, emotional disturbance, sensory impairment or lack of opportunities, but it may occur alongside any of these.

* The effects of dyslexia can be largely overcome by skilled specialist teaching and the use of compensatory strategies

Dyslexia affects people from all backgrounds, races and ages. It is not a disease and cannot be passed from one child to another. It is believed that dyslexia is a condition, which is most often, passes down from parent to child. Everybody’s brain is unique, but research has shown that the brains of people with dyslexia seem to use different pathways to organise information. The severity of symptoms will vary from person to person. The difficulties caused by dyslexia can cause great anxiety and upset. Dyslexia is not something you grow out of, but there are techniques, which can be learnt to help cope with the problems.

What is Visual Disability / Impairment?

There are a minority of people whom can see nothing at all, but most of the people called blind can see a little (this is known as visual impairment). People with poor vision are called partially sighted. Many people are short sighted or long sighted. Most kinds of blindness are more likely to affect people as they grow old, but a disease or an accident can harm eyes at any time. Now and then children are born blind or with very poor sight.

If any part of the eye is damaged, it can cause blindness and is considered to be a visual impairment. Blind people have difficulty in seeing and some people are not able to see at all. When someone is blind, he or she may need some extra help to live his or her everyday lives.

What is Physical Impairment / having limited use of limbs?

There are many types and degrees of Physical Impairment. Perception, muscle control, and strength can be generally reduced as with some elderly people or more specifically with amputees or the blind. I will be concentrating on the users who have limited use of their limbs.

There are also variations in aids such as a cane or wheelchair used to reduce the handicapping effect. Even with these wide variations, some characteristics are generally applicable to all disabilities. For example, reduction in the ability to react quickly creates a greater potential for accidents, especially falls, and reduced adaptability makes equipment difficult to use.

The number of people who are disabled is unknown. Estimates range from less than 1 per cent to more than 20 per cent, depending on how ‘Physical Impairment’ is defined. For many of them, new computer technology can dramatically improve their quality of life, their ability to communicate and their opportunities for independence and employment.

The definition of disability

The Disability Discrimination Act defines a disabled person as someone with “a physical or mental impairment, which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his/her ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.”

So, for the purpose of my Coursework, I will not class Dyslexic users as a disabled person because the majority of dyslexic students are not affected so much to the extent whereby a substantial and long-term adverse effect is experienced on his/her ability to carry out common routine activities. However, I will choose to distinguish Dyslexic users as people with learning difficulties. I will include both my other users to be included under the definition of a disability. (Visually and physically impaired users) Sensory impairments are regarded as physical impairments and Visual impairments are therefore covered.

Legislation that may affect my chosen users (& affects the requirements for support for people with special needs e.g. the workplace)

I have already identified the differences between special needs, and now I will consider how each user’s access to information and how legislation affects the requirements for support for people with special needs. I will then make conclusions about the affects of legislation on people with special needs and the requirements it makes on organisations and individuals involved in supporting them.

When researching for information regarding legislation I have discovered that I will need to put my focus upon the meaning of ‘disability’, as shown from above.

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