Findings of 3 empirical studies of the computer technology needs and concerns of Québec cegep students with disabilities are presented. Data from 97 college students with disabilities, 21 cegep professors, and 71 individuals responsible for providing services to college students with disabilities were obtained using focus groups, interviews and closed-ended questionnaire.
Key findings about demographic / institutional factors are: (1) few college students with disabilities in Québec: 0.5% in Quebec vs. 5.5% in the rest of Canada, (2) no significant sex, age, linguistic or regional differences in computer use or attitudes, (3) mean age was 23 and students were generally enrolled in social science pre-university and career programs, (4) 55% of students had multiple impairments, (5) professors need information about how to adapt their courses.
Key findings about computer use are: (6) virtually all students with disabilities used computers and the internet, mostly PCs, (7) 1/3 of students needed adaptive technologies to use a computer, (8) high costs related to computers were noted by all 3 groups of participants, (9) technologies intended for students with one disability were often used by students with a different impairment.
The implications of the findings for the education of college students are presented and the following recommendations to faculty are made: (1) Make no assumptions about what technological solutions work best. Ask! (2) Make assignments, handouts, and exams available in alternative formats (e.g., web, disk, tape). (3) Allow students to audiotape lectures and take notes on a computer. (4) Provide electronic copies of in-class presentations and notes. (4) Allow submission of assignments and exams in alternative formats. (5) Put course information on the web. (6) Make web sites universally accessible (e.g., alt-text for images, html rather than Adobe Acrobat). (7) Present information multimodally (e.g., both picture and text). (8) Add captioning to multimedia presentations. (8) Use "virtual office hours" using e-mail.
For more information, visit our bilingual Adaptech Project web site: http://www.adaptech.org