Assistive Technology Outreach model UCC evaluation
Andrew Costello – Assistive Technology officer, Trinty College Dublin.
- The main aim of this research study was to:
- To evaluate the success of the UCC project and its effectiveness in attracting new students to UCC.
- Interview the outreach assistive technology officer who had main control on achieving success in this project and gain feedback where available from the participants involved.
- Survey universities and IT in the Dublin region on the outcomes of the project to evaluate if such an approach would be feasible in the Dublin area in promoting assistive technology at the secondary level and creating the necessary links between schools and third-level education.
This research study surrounds a project carried out by the University College Cork in the academic year 2012 – 2013. The project's main objective was to create an outreach network for secondary schools, teachers, and parents to gain a better understanding of assistive technology and its benefits. Assistive technology can be defined as “any use of technology which helps you perform a task more easily. Without the correct support and understanding of the devices, research has shown a large abandonment rate of such devices.
The UCC model is driven by the need for a better understanding of how such technologies can benefit students within an educational sector. The project also aimed to increase awareness and support for such devices within a social/ family environment. The project also aimed to build support channels between secondary levels of education and UCC. The project allowed schools, support teachers, and parents to quiz the AT officer on how technology could help their children in a busy and demanding educational environment via several area-based workshops. These informational workshops also allowed for an opportunity for both students and parents to trial some devices and see firsthand the benefits. The overall aim was to increase the number of students with a variety of disabilities attending UCC and their understanding of how technology plays a role in this transition.
Subjective review of online material in coordination with semi-structured interviews with key UCC personnel. The review will also involve the surveying of AT officers in the Dublin region on the usefulness of the such model.
The evidence from this case study review shows there is an appetite for knowledge amongst parents and students in availing of technology supports that are simple and free to use at the present phase. The end-user is simply lacking a support channel in the selection and use of such software and devices.
Providing such initiatives also helps build lasting relationships between secondary levels to third level education and grows transitional links that enhance the student’s ability to reach their full potential.
Dublin HEI Survey results:
- 90% of current Dublin HEI provide no such support mechanism
- 40% felt that such a project would need adequate resources before a commitment to such a project could start
- 58% Of Dublin-based HEI had no link to AT service in their catchment area.
- 85% felt a shared approach to such an initiative would be a better approach than a single university promotion approach.
Further work is needed on ensuring assistive technology is core within a learning environment and that adequate resources are available to support such devices and technologies for teachers and parents. Only such support structures can enable the successful use of assistive devices and extinguish the abandonment of such enabling supports. This investigational study has only examined a small sample of users on a project ran with a particular focus on assistive technology. A further study could incorporate information held by specific disability organisations and by college access programs that have soldiered existing relationships with underrepresented disability cohorts under use non-use of assistive technology supports they have had access to avail of.
To view the full report please click this link: UCC AT Outreach report
Timeline/stage: Masters Year 3 – 10 week study November – December ‘13.
Level: Masters in Computing (Assistive Technology & Universal Design)