In today’s world, technology is progressing at an unprecedented speed. It is constantly evolving to our needs, to meet what we require in terms of entertainment, consumer products, and as a means of communication and research.
BIBC can use its technology as a leverage to meet a new level of learning experience. Encompassing and working to meet the needs of those with disabilities or special needs - allowing them to take the journey of growth and learning with BIBC using an interface that creates no gap to their potential limitations.
How can BIBC drive engagement and deliver learning content for students with disabilities?
In order to create a solution that caters towards the needs of students with learning disabilities, we must be mindful of the diversity in disabilities and the individual needs and accommodations required for proper learning.
Our team took a look at the different user stories that BIBC could target in the creation of an interface. The following are certain personas we created as an exemplary target audience, with whom we can address and identify user issues caused by a disability, that affect learning.
1. Deaf/Hearing Disability
Mary is a 13-year-old girl with a hearing disability. She has trouble hearing the voices of her teachers and peers due to the background feedback during google meet and zoom calls. Even with her hearing aid, it is difficult for Mary to have a clear understanding of the entirety of what was said during a call. As a student with a learning disability, it helps Mary to have visual, rather than audio content alongside any preexisting learning materials that her teacher provides.
In order to create an interface that allows students like Mary to be able to have an engaging learning experience while classes are online, all conferences that take place on this platform will allow for real-time captions. Speech-to-text dictation will allow for students with hearing disabilities to be on the same page as their other peers during a class call. Furthermore, it will drive engagement once the students are made able to be aware of what is being said.
Additionally, any videos or podcasts posted by the teachers or peers on the feed will be created with the option of accessing a transcript. By enabling students to have the option of a transcript for what is posted, regardless of whether visual aids are provided during the duration of a video to make points, students will have a feature that gives them exactly, word-for-word what is said.
2. Social Anxiety
Wei is a 14-year-old who has recently moved from Italy. Due to the language barrier and English not being his first language, Wei has developed social anxiety. He does not feel like he fits in with the rest of his class, and has trouble voicing his concerns or questions to the teacher, in front of his peers.
Those with social anxiety may carry a fear of talking in front of peers during group calls or of posting/sending messages on a group messaging board/thread. To combat this issue for students with anxiety, our interface will allow for a direct message to the host of a group call or conference. As such, students will be able to send direct messages to the teacher alone, without being afraid of judgement from other peers in their class. Students will also be allowed to post anonymous messages to the general class messaging thread - however, these names will still be made accessible to the host/teacher.
Our team’s solution will also allow for students to be able to change the language of real-time captioning during conferences and of the transcripts for any posted videos and/or podcasts. This is a feature that will particularly be helpful to ESL students, but also to those like Wei - who have social anxiety due to a general language barrier.
Martha is a 15-year-old girl who has trouble focusing for long periods of time due to a professional diagnosis of ADHD. She finds it difficult to stay on task when having to read long multi-page lessons.
In the case of those with attention disorders, like ADHD, our solution will allow for AI summarization of large chunks of text and text-to-speech translation. This will be made possible through downloadable screen readers that will create small notes of pages of text and speech synthesis.
The interface will allow for snapshots to be taken of conferences. These snapshots can be used for concise notes later on - aiding to those with ADHD, but to also quickly get a shot of a visual or of something specific the teacher stated, that you can use later on.
For some students with attention disorders, it may be more useful to listen to the lesson, while for some that is what causes their distraction most, and having a physical reading made available is more useful. Creating a variety of ways for students to access the learning content made available to them enables them to choose what works best for them. VARK is a learning model consisting of a mix of visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic learning - the aim of this solution.
In implementing these techniques and features into an interface, BIBC can create a solution to the very distinct gap that exists for those with disabilities when it comes to learning online. By delivering content in a way that addresses the issues that arise when it comes to users with disabilities, we can promote and drive engagement in these individuals. Closing the gap, and providing accessibility to everyone ensures a more inclusive environment.
While working with my team to find a solution to expand and bridge the gap in accessibility for BIBC, I spent a lot of time thinking about my own experience with education.
My parents moved from India to Canada to provide me with a safer life, and one with more opportunities than they grew up having. Since kindergarten, I can honestly say I have had the privilege to have a very smooth experience with learning and going to school. I have never experienced the limitations or struggles that those with disabilities or disorders may face.
However, in working on this solution with my team I believe I have become more aware of how even the littlest things that I may take as privilege can be difficult to others.
So how can WE demonstrate inclusion and showcase accessibility for peers and students with disabilities?