Klavdija Zorec PhD, is a Postdoctoral Researcher at DCU. They are currently working on The DEPTH Study, which aims to investigate ways to enhance technology use for students with disabilities. Earlier in the year, a focus group was arranged featuring academics, university stakeholders and students. Klavdija discusses the DEPTH Study, the focus group and what the project will look like going forward.
The Irish Research Council-funded DEPTH Study, an inter-sectoral research collaboration between DCU, AHEAD, and the ALL Institute in Maynooth University, has the following aims;
- Examine the experience of students with disabilities in higher education in Ireland
- Examine how technology supports students with disabilities accessing, progressing through and fully participating in higher education
- Identify what enhances and inhibits the provision and use of technology in higher education
- Identify key guiding principles and features of a technology-friendly inclusive university campus
- Make recommendations for future action to realise these principles and key features.
A systems-approach incorporating the central role of user experience (students with disabilities) and wider stakeholders informed the two-phased research design. Phase 1 consisted of in-depth interviews with 18 students with disabilities along with wider stakeholders, including university support services, academics, government bodies, non-profit organisations, charities, and advocacy groups.
This phase provided a rich and in-depth picture of what the system looks like and how it is experienced from the perspective of students with disabilities and the wider stakeholder’s perspective. Whereas Phase 2 consisted of an open discussion, dialogue forum of 50 participants drawing on the world-café methodology, a participatory and engaging approach to promoting group dialogues and creating innovative possibilities for action; in this research to build guiding principles for a technology-friendly inclusive campus and actions to implement them.
This two-week long virtual dialogue forum enabled students with disabilities and wider stakeholders to work together to identify knowledge gaps and seek solutions and success factors for building guiding principles for a technology friendly inclusive campus and actions to implement them through policy, practice and social change. Graphic recording of the group conversation was used to visually capture and bring forward the shared values and agenda for the development of technology-friendly inclusive university settings for students with disabilities and for all.
The project team is pleased to announce that research findings from the DEPTH Study will be shared soon via multiple knowledge exchange sources. Follow the #DepthStudy hashtag on Twitter for updates.
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