Learning is an essential part of every living being’s life. For humans, it becomes all the more important. Learning helps us grow, socialise, take up a job, earn, and survive. Those who are unable to go through this process of learning are often at a disadvantage which can range from social issues to financial problems and others. While there are many reasons for this lack of learning, one of them, which is often misunderstood is Learning Disability.
Understanding Learning Disability
Health, as per the World Health Organisation, is ‘a state of physical, mental and social well-being’. A lag in any one aspect is hence considered unhealthy. Learning Disability is one such health issue for starters. Often neglected, or denied its presence, this issue is now a major focal point for educational institutions and social equality advocates alike.
Learning Disability, in general, is a term that describes specific kinds of learning issues or problems. It can cause a person to have problems in learning and using certain skills. The skills which are most often affected are:
|· Reading||· Speaking|
|· Writing||· Reasoning|
|· Listening||· Mathematics|
The degree of learning disability varies from one person to another. While some people suffer from one disability, few others still suffer from multiple disabilities.
While the above are the skills that are hampered due to a learning disability, disability of the physical or mental kind can also contribute to a person’s learning disability. Such disabilities are:
- Visual disabilities
- hearing impairments
- Physical disabilities
- Speech disabilities
- Cognitive and neurological disabilities
- Multiple disabilities
- Aging-related conditions and
- Mental disability
These disabilities of a varying degree hamper a person’s prospects to learn in different ways.
The Current Problem
The problem with the current learning system is that it considers everyone the same. It doesn’t take into account the choices, conditions, situations and preferences of individuals. No matter who one is, what one does, what background one has, what issues one has to deal with, learning centres operate in a similar and set way. It doesn’t, in general, provide with a flexible approach. So an autistic child is treated and has to learn in the same way that a non-autistic child would study. And if one does need special attention, the only option is a special school catering to similar children. While this makes them learned, it also, at the same time instils every idea of them being different and special. So they grow up with a feeling that they are different from others, need special care, and often find themselves at a receiving end. Social equality goes for a toss here.
E-Learning- Lending a Supporting Hand
E-Learning is helping break many barriers in learning for the disabled. Education has had a makeover with e-learning. Technology has made learning more varied and palatable for everyone. E-Learning is now becoming a preferred mode of learning and education for its following properties:
Breaking Time Barrier – E-Learning lets students learn at own pace. Moreover, they can start and enjoy the process anytime they wish. So a student with ADHD who finds it hard to concentrate for a 45-minute classroom session can easily break up an e-learning session at own attention span.
Breaking Distance and Space Barrier – There are no set structures where one must visit for access to learning material or educators. The content is spread all over the world when it comes to e-learning. This, at the same time, is accessible to everyone, everywhere.
Breaking Analog and Digital Barrier – Digital content is far more interesting and appealing than old school texts. A learner can learn a topic using a video which is supported by suitable audio, animation, text, images and some interactive elements. It becomes so easy to put a video on repeat than to ask a teacher to stall and start over just for one student.
Breaking Stereotypes — One size fits all is the biggest stereotype in education. One course design or method of teaching is not suitable for everyone and the world now agrees to it. E-learning content can be easily modified and personalized to suit the needs of special students.
Solutions for Everyone
Technology is helping e-learning to overcome different types of disabilities in different ways. Such individual advancements or a combination of few is making people with different disabilities find their own way to learn. Some of the major advantage points are:
For Visual disabilities – Great Audio, Braille keyboards, voice-to-text software are few ways in which e-learning is making them overcome the visual challenges.
Hearing impairments — Video lectures are available with sub-titles and interactive elements let them raise question and learn more beneficially.
Physical disabilities – Physical or mobility impaired students find it easier to learn from their own home or any other comfortable place of their choice. Live streaming of lectures, multiple classes at the same time are just a few advantages for them.
Cognitive and neurological disabilities – Such students gain an advantage using e-learning technology such as touch screens, trackers that track the head and eye movement of students to understand what they are reading and other augmentative and alternative communication methods.
E-Learning and its assistive technologies are helping bridge the learning gap. Disability of any kind shouldn’t serve as a reason for a person to not learn. Technology is for humankind and for its development. The need of the hour is to adapt the eLearning technologies and that too wisely. What is aimed at bridging the divide shouldn’t work to dilate it. The focus should be on equal opportunity to learn, which is every individual’s right.
- Sneha Sinha