Provision of Assistive Technology for Students with Disabilities in South African Higher Education: A Decolonial Perspective

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Sibonokuhle Ndlovu

Subject: Arts & Humanities, Anthropology & Ethnography Keywords: Assistive Technology; Assistive devices; Students with disabilities; Decolonial Approach; South African Higher Education; Disability Staff members; learning; Enable and Constrain

This paper used the decolonial theory to analyse provision of Assistive Technology and assistive devices at an institution of higher education in South African. It was an empirical study, in which data were collected through interviews with students with disabilities and the Disability Rights Centre staff members. The paper sought to understand the invisible hidden implications of provision of Assistive Technology and assistive devices. The finding was that it is students with disabilities who were provided with Assistive Technology and assistive devices at the institution. The institution provided them through the Centre, to support their learning. However, this way of provision was found to be stigmatising and segregative. Furthermore, while the provision on one hand enabled students with disabilities’ learning, on the other, it constrained it. The argument of the paper is that when provision of Assistive Technology and assistive devices is for a particular group of students it defeats the whole purpose for it is intended, and could hinder rather than promote learning. It is hoped that the paper will contribute to contemporary debate on provision of Assistive Technology and support services for people with disabilities in low resource settings, from a South African context specifically, and in higher education broadly.

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