assisting learners

Assistive devices were mentioned in the DIGE survey, as well as in the focus group for students with accessibility needs. Among the survey respondents, just under 4% of UGs, just over 2% of TPGs and just over 2% of RPGs stated that they used assistive software and/or hardware. Applications listed included the Inspiration concept-mapping tool, OmniPage reader, ClaroView, ClaroRead, Read&Write 10, MindGenius, and Dragon Naturally Speaking.[1]Hardware included a laptop to help with dyspraxia, an extra display screen, tracker-ball mouse, keyboard, and a specialised chair. The focus group participants mentioned other assistive devices such as ergonomic vertical mice and even flipcharts as important to their learning.

“I hardly ever shut down my MacBook. It’s connected to a 24’’ monitor – my poor eyes cannot use a 13’’ screen all day”

In general, students with accessibility issues seem to prefer a  tailored approach to IT training in order to ask specific questions: ‘I already knew how to open docs, but what I was more interested in was to be able to see what I could do with it [on my own], then have someone to ask.’ Another student mentioned she found it very helpful to be able to contact the trainer via email when she had trouble. The students also expressed interest in having training workshops at OUCS throughout the term for accessibility software.

Students emphasised that the online sharing and storage of teaching resources (e.g. lecture slides, handouts, notes, and reading lists) are extremely useful, as are recordings of lectures. Respondents to  Freshers’ Fair survey rated online copies of lecture handouts as very important or fairly important to receive, either before the lecture (75%) or afterwards (88%). Over 55% also rated listening to (or watching) a recording of a lecture afterwards as important to them. The desire for recorded lectures was stressed particularly strongly by participants in the ‘accessibility’ focus group.

Over 58% of Freshers’ Fair survey respondents rated the receipt of online feedback on their written assignments to be important to them.  24% of undergraduates, however,  rated online services for feedback as inefficient some felt that the use of OxCORT should be mandatory, as it was difficult to get feedback on their progress in any other way.


[1] www.inspiration.com; www.nuance.co.uk (OmniPage, Dragon Naturally Speaking); www.clarosoftware.com; www.texthelp.com (Read&Write); www.mindgenius.com;

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