A systematic literature review on education and learning related to ICT and ICT-based assistive technology

Within Work Package 3 of the ENTELIS project, a systematic analysis was carried out of the available literature on education and learning related to ICT (Information and communication technologies) and ICT-based AT (assistive technology). This survey collected data and information from scientific journals, conference proceedings from European and world conferences, case studies, best practices, new strategies, barriers, factors for success and failure. 150 scientific journal and conference proceedings were reviewed, along with 13 international projects carried out over the last four years.

The literature search was carried out in scientific publications databases, by using keywords related to ICT-AT learning and participation. The results were clustered around seven categories:

  • ICT & ICT-AT in education;
  • ICT & ICT-AT and older adults;
  • ICT & ICT-AT and daily life;
  • ICT & ICT-AT in employment;
  • Resources for ICT & ICT-AT;
  • Barriers to ICT & ICT-AT;
  • Best practices in ICT & ICT-AT.
  • Digital Divide

Overall, literature on ICT & ICT-AT learning and competence development is quite limited, and mainly approached by projects. The main corpus of scientific publications focuses on the benefits of ICT-AT for the lives of persons with disabilities and on the related challenges.

Various educational settings have been explored, looking at educational strategies and curricular developments, educators’ and users’ perceptions and conceptualizations, ICT-AT supported skill developments (e.g. in literacy or math) education-related services. The review highlights the positive effects of the use of ICT-AT in the education of various groups of learners with disabilities, and the way digital competences can develop through proper inter-disciplinary approaches. The different opportunities and challenges of learners with disabilities in different educational settings (primary, secondary, higher; formal, informal and non-formal) are also emphasized. For older adults, the technology usefulness and usability is analyzed with respect to daily needs, life quality issues, attitudes, timing, ethical concerns and learning difficulties; several studies highlight that the usability of the technology is crucial for the its adoption or abandonment. In relation to ICT-AT and daily life, literature demonstrates the great potential of ICT-AT for improvement of learning, communication, and daily life or persons with disabilities. Other studies discuss the positive impact of ICT-AT competencies on employment and maintenance of a work status. Nevertheless, the analysis also indicates a number of difficulties and barriers. These include policy making issues, financial restrictions of individuals as well as of service providers, awareness by professionals and users, disability conceptualization, service delivery, accessibility and technology design. In particular, it seems that design and accessibility issues highly affect the development of digital skills and the use of technology by people with disabilities. Best practices mostly refer to technological advances such as robotics, assisted care systems, virtual technologies and personal support technologies. Finally, albeit limited, projects and papers on digital skills development highlight the importance of the introduction of ICT-AT competences curricula in various educational settings. Some of them also indicate an advantage in acceptance of accessible mainstream technology Vs assistive technology, and hence an advantage in the use of accessible new technologies and the indirect development of relevant digital skills.

Here the summary tables of the literature review can be freely downloaded. For each literature reference, a brief description is provided along with the link to the original article or Web resource.

Katerina Mavrou, Maria Meletiou-Mavrotheris, Merja Sallinen, Anne Karke, Evert-Jan Hoogerwerf
Entelis Consortium, http://www.entelis.net, 2015