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