Greener Journal of Educational Research

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Greener Journal of  Educational Research Vol. 3(8), pp. 392-401, October 2013

 ISSN: 2276-7789 

Research Paper

Manuscript Number: 180913849


Making Open and Distance Learning Inclusive: The Zimbabwe Open University’s Experience with People with Disabilities


Dr. T. M. Kaputa


Department of Disability Studies and Special Needs Education, Faculty of Applied Social Sciences, 

Zimbabwe Open University.


Email: tmusankuleni @ gmail. com


People with disabilities (PWDs) have always been at the peripheral of formal education programmes. Historically their education has been a result of handouts from benevolent missionaries and NGOs. Studies have shown that people with disabilities if afforded the chance to learn can also perform as well as any able bodied person benefiting and achieving adequate independent living standards (Chimedza and Peters, 2001). Key to meaningful and effective inclusion is the creation and provision of suitable study materials (Modesto and Tau, 2009). This study, therefore, was on how Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) is including PWDs in its programmes specifically focusing on the creation and provision of appropriate study materials. A qualitative survey design using a semi structured interview schedule was used to collect data from Department chairpersons, the Academic registry managers and the Materials Development Unit (MDU) editors. Themes were developed from the collected data and analysed. The findings show that ZOU is including PWDs but is facing problems of developing and providing adequate study materials for some disabilities. The study recommends that disability specialists be involved in the creation and development of study materials both in print and electronically. Collaboration with organization of and for people with disabilities and other Open and Distance Learning (ODL) institutions will help bring critical expertise together to improve the inclusion of many PWDs into ODL.
 Keywords: People with disabilities, inclusion, study materials, disability specialties.

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