4.2.1 Integration and use of accessible ICTs in school curriculum
UNESCO defines curriculum as “what is learned and what is taught (context): how it is delivered (teaching – learning methods); how it is assessed (exams, for example); and the resources used (e.g. books used to deliver and support teaching and learning).”115 Curriculum development and teaching practices have received much attention in the movement toward inclusive education. In general, curriculum in inclusive schools must be “flexible and adaptable, designed to reduce environmental barriers of students who may disadvantage [sic] from regular education.”116
Accessible ICTs can help transform static curriculum resources into flexible digital media that students with a variety of abilities can access once they have the appropriate AT. For example, class notes developed in electronic text can be converted into a variety of formats such as audio, Braille, accessible HTML, DAISY audio book etc. Assessment methods need to be flexible and adaptable to students’ needs.
The introduction of any new ICT or AT should be complemented by sufficient technical support in order to reduce the stakes of abandonment. The mostly likely source of this ongoing support is through centers of specialized knowledge located within local or regional school networks.
It is important to differentiate between (a) the specialized support and training required by both students and teachers in the use of specific ATs in classroom settings and (b) the use of accessible ICTs generally to improve access to curriculum. For example, in the Kenyan case study, blind students were given specific training in the use of screen-reading technology before they were able to use the technology to access educational materials in the mainstream classroom.117 However, once this training was received, teachers were then required to provide learning materials in a format (electronic) that was compatible with the screen reader. Therefore, in line with the principles of Universal Design, national policies on curriculum development should require that learning resources, such as text books, be made available in alternate formats.
In general, a connected school that uses accessible ICTs to enable students with disabilities to receive an education in an inclusive environment will need to adopt the use of ICT in all areas of curriculum development. While it is beyond the scope of this toolkit to make specific recommendations on curriculum development, UNESCO identifies four key curriculum areas through which ICT skills and literacy can be improved. These are:
(i) ICT literacy – ICT skills are taught and learned as a separate subject.
(ii) Application of ICTs in subject areas – ICT skills are developed within separate subjects.
(iii) Infusing ICTs into the entire curriculum – ICTs are integrated or embedded across all subjects of the curriculum.
(iv) ICT specialization – ICTs are taught and learned as an applied subject to train for a profession.118