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Online Learning and Learners with Disability

Learners with Disability

It’s already been more than three months I last sat to write. I used to write almost regularly and frantically before that. I think there has gone a phase of initial wave of writing spree in me. But I didn’t write anything important and significant during that time of writing spree. Again it also seems to me that, those writings were better than the writing I am penning nowadays. I feel like I have lost the light of writing better pieces. Whatever I will write now will be an embarrassment.

I cannot write if I do not talk about what I am feeling inside, at this very moment, first. Still there is a sort of unease inside me telling me that you are still half way of telling what you are actually feeling. Whatever, it is not always possible to fully express what someone is feeling inside. Some things should be left unexpressed. And I am willing to start writing carrying that unease inside me. Let that unease be my driving force. Over the process of writing that unease should go away, should evaporate. That must happen. If that does not happen, it means I have wasted my time in writing. Whatever I have written is “crap” in a word.

For many days a thought has been taunting my mind. A lot has already been written and talked about that topic which is taunting my mind. Online class, online learning during pandemic. Now almost each and every educational institution has started taking online classes in whatever capacity it has including National University. The background of the scenario of the prominence of online learning is known to all. The emergence of COVID -19. So, I will not stretch myself to talk about how COVID- 19 has impacted our educational approach, how it has changed our way of teaching and learning, how it has exposed our weaknesses and strengths etc. These are already been discussed in almost each and every platform starting from Newspapers to TV talk shows.

So that discussion apart, my mind was stalking me about the issue of online learning and learners with disability. There are a lot of students in our educational institutions who have mild to severe type of disability including hearing impairments to visual challenges besides other physical challenges. So, you have already got the main point of inclusivity in this regard I am going to pitch. Almost everyone knows about inclusivity and equality narrative in education sector like any other sectors. The term technological divide is also very familiar among us. How this pandemic has created a sort of technological divide among the poorer sections of learners and population is widely discussed in all sorts of media. So talking about disability and online learning, there are many students who have impairments and you may say challenges to make the word politically more correct, but whatever the correction is, they are facing challenges and problems in attending online classes as they need to hear and see the content of online learning- lecture and also when the screen is shared.

So what about them? They are already getting alienated and excluded from the ecosystem of online learning. Technology is getting better day by day. There is option in mobile phone like “accessibility” that is used by many users with disability. But there is no option like that in the most popular platform of online learning- ZOOM. I am skipping talking about other platforms. As there are no options and if there were options, still there would have been many challenges in applying and using those.

It’s undoubtedly a challenge for the learners with disability. There is no denial of that. And it doesn’t require writing a long and flowery essay to understand and make someone understood this issue. I have no particular solution in mind for that. So again, that widely used term-inclusivity should be exercised in this regard, and to achieve that inclusivity whatever is necessary must be done.

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