Only just a few short years ago disabled students were at a severe disadvantage when they sought a higher education. Some campuses were literally inaccessible to those unable to get around easily and other schools made small efforts to do such things as building a ramp in key buildings but oddly, it always seemed as though there was that one building that wasn’t accessible and that was the one where a non-ambulatory student wished to take a class. Today, even though legislation has passed requiring all public buildings to have disabled access points, sometimes those are no longer needed. Here is how technology has impacted disabled students.
Alternatives to On-Campus Degree Programs
Perhaps one of the biggest advances in technology has been the Internet. Now students who are unable to get around and are bound to a wheelchair can still get a degree as easily as those who can study on campus. For example, anyone wishing to study for a public health degree online can do everything from registration to graduation and everything in between from their very own home. While it is nice to get out and socialize with others in your peer group, if getting around presents a problem and can take focus away from your studies, learning from home may be the best solution. Socialize other times but study from home – the perfect solution.
Technology for the Visually Impaired
Some students have issues with their sight from slight visual impairment to total blindness. Now there are a multitude of apps that read texts for the student so they can study and also those that have text to speech capabilities so the student can turn in ‘written’ assignments with the assistance of programs like Dragon and Google’s text-to-speech for androids. It isn’t as easy as completing a paper for those that have full use of their eyes, but technology has made it possible for anyone to get a degree no matter the level of their impairment.
Technology for the Hearing Impaired
Those who have some level of hearing impairment are not always served well with hearing aids and devices. Often there are echoes and faulty reception that hinder a student from hearing what professors are saying. That student wishing to get a masters in public health online can simply read the words on the screen of his or her computer, making it possible to complete a degree program much easier than at any time in the past.
Life is not perfect when you are disabled but thanks to technology it has become easier to live a quality of life that was previously unavailable for anyone with moderate to severe disabilities. Now you can study to become the director of a Public Health clinic or to be a forensic biologist working for the CDC. With such tools as text-to-speech apps, Dragon Naturally Speaking and online public health degree programs the sky is the limit. With virtual reality on the horizon, even greater things are in store for disabled students and that isn’t very far in the future. What will tomorrow offer those with disabilities? With advances in technology, it is anyone’s guess but sure to be a giant step forward.