An investigation into the potential role of a virtual learning environment for visually impaired adults

  • Paul Lynch

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


New advances in technology suggest that we have the capacity to include visually impaired adults in the e-learning domain, but recent evidence reveals there are still a number of practical issues that need to be dealt with, principally in terms of providing training to students on how to use new technology and then apply it to e-learning. One of the biggest challenges for those working in the field of accessibility and e-learning is to find technical solutions that will enable visually impaired people to access learning on an equitable basis with their sighted peers.     

This research investigates the potential role of inclusive learning environments in promoting effective learning for visually impaired adults. In seeking to do this it explores some of the main advances in the development of e-learning and assistive technology,identifying how these can provide new learning opportunities for this group of learners. It also utilises a research strategy that derives from a commitment to principles associated with the emancipatory movement in disability studies research.

  This strategy is integrated within a framework of mixed methods to find out whether newtechnology can be used explicitly to develop learning environments and how, in turn, thissymbiotic relationship affects the experience of learners and impacts on learning outcomes.

Findings from the study reveal that inclusive learning environments have a positive impact on how visually impaired learners perceive themselves as members of the digitalage. Other findings suggest that visually impaired learners are seeking more complexways of learning with the support of new forms of technology. The implications of thesefindings are discussed in relation to current and future developments in accessible elearning, and in relation to the potential benefits and limitations of working with principlesof inclusive research associated with the emancipatory paradigm in disability studies.
Date of AwardDec 2008
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorTony Gallagher (Supervisor)

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