Educational Development in Africa: Bridging disability Gap with Distance Learning for the Visually Impaired

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF10 Sub-theme: Promoting Equity and Inclusion // It is a known fact that the era of the Covid19 pandemic has further exposed the concept and technology of distance learning as more and more people are now interested in higher education through the distance learning mode. Distance learning courses are possibly an appropriate tool for mainstream students with impairments in education since they rely significantly on digital material and are technology-mediated. However, in the drive to move forward, most structures/systems are typically created without taking into cognizance the unique interface issues those students with disabilities are confronted with while using technology, especially the blind and the visually impaired. Hence, this paper is aimed at creating an enabling examination platform where this vulnerable group would be supported by providing a voice supported application, ODL Visually Impaired Assessment Bot for the blind and the visually impaired to write their examinations. This will further ensure equality and inclusive education in acquiring life-long learning through distance learning. Artificial intelligence technologies were used to develop a Robot that was used for the implementation of the Application. The Robot reads out the examination questions to the blind and visually impaired student and also listens to the student speak and thereafter captures and types out the answers of the student. It is against this backdrop that this paper is written to proffer a solution to the blind and the visually impaired students in Africa, especially, the National Open University of Nigeria. The significance of this ODL Visually Impaired Assessment Bot is aimed at building a sustainable educational system through the use of technology, thus eradicating limiting ideologies in Africa, like ‘those with disabilities cannot be educated and the rich only deserve quality education’. This application will create a level ground for all to access life-long quality education, through the open and distance mode. The visually impaired if given proper education cannot constitute any form of liability but an asset to themselves, their families and the society at large. // Paper ID 3346

Open and Distance Learning (ODL),Disabilities,Accessibility,Inclusion,Artificial Intelligence (AI),Inclusive Education