Every human being has been crafted with distinctive features that set them apart. On the one hand, these unique attributes make them special, whereas, on the other hand, the same can confine their potential and capabilities if not furnished with support for their growth and development.
The specially or differently-abled people may not be like the others around them because of certain limitations and disabilities they have, however, factors affecting learning should not be impediments to their way of learning and development.
The different factors affecting learning of the differently-abled people are the nature of the disability they have, the availability of the equipment to enable them, the conducive environment, and materials for learning as well as unique instructional approaches exclusively designed for their convenience.
Besides that, the method of evaluation of their learning and the prevalent social beliefs also is one of the factors affecting learning of differently-abled individuals. It is obvious that these specially-abled individuals would not be able to adjust to the educational programs and learning methods for individuals without any disabilities and hence require separate infrastructure for that.
Nevertheless, like every other disparity that these individuals have with their peers devoid of any disability, their learning process can also be distinguishable and more creative. It would not only augment their enthusiasm but also help in eliminating any kind of self-doubt or second thought they may have regarding their learning process.
So, here goes some creative ways in which differently-abled people can be encouraged for learning:
1. Gamification of the lessons
Kids are always perked up at the idea of schools that have a lot of toys or a playroom for them. It means that the idea of incorporating games into education and learning is not new. Similarly, if this process of gamification is included in the learning process of individuals with disabilities, it would not only stimulate their enthusiasm but also reinstate their self-confidence. But most importantly, it is the sheer excitement the learners would feel to be a part of some new game which at the same time helps deliver lessons to them strategically and effectively. Planning some group activities or team games as a part of the lessons can be an interesting idea that would immediately attract the attention of the learners, while at the same time saving them from the apprehensions they might have regarding learning.
2. Data visualization
Individuals having cognitive disabilities or syndromes which prevent them from grasping the information that is being inculcated in them can benefit a lot if the lessons are conveyed to them through data visualisation. Using the methods of PowerPoint presentations, illustrative diagrams, and colourful pictures, every bit of information can be deeply embedded into the learners’ minds because visual lessons can be retained in the memory for a longer period than any auditory lesson.
3. Using the necessary tools and devices
In a class of differently-abled people, there is a varied range of disabilities starting from hearing impairment, visual impairment, cognitive disabilities, or any kind of motor disorder. The application of supportive technology, such as text-to-speech converters and vice versa, and recruitment of faculty who are adept in sign language, can help a lot in establishing a very convenient and compelling way to overcome factors affecting learning for differently-abled people.
4. Multi-sensory learning
It is believed that one cannot just learn by studying or memorizing. Learning is the assimilation of knowledge through senses, like seeing something new, touching something new, or recognizing a unique sound by hearing it. For differently-abled individuals, multi-sensory learning can be a very steadfast solution. Instead of the regular pen-and-paper format, these individuals can be provided with visual aids or auditory lessons as well as tangible study materials so that the learning process does not get obstructed due to their disabilities.
5. Learning through art and craft
Very often differently-abled people find themselves to be isolated from their peers because of their disabilities and that is a huge blow to their self-esteem, a feeling strong enough to make them lose interest in learning. Organising art and craft workshops can give a very healthy platform to these differently-abled people to express themselves and communicate with their peers through the channel of art. Children with disabilities can be instructed to draw patterns and recognise colours which would improve their motor skills while at the same time helping them to communicate through symbols or pictures which they would learn to create during these workshops. Besides their cognitive development, these art and craft workshops can also provide a medium of communication for these differently-abled people, where they can socialise with their peers in a controlled environment and that too under the supervision of a caregiver or an instructor.
The core idea of devising creative ways to learn is to overcome factors affecting learning for differently-abled people to make sure that they are not deprived of their right to education while at the same time allowing them to mingle with their peers while being themselves. It is the collective effort needed by educators, lesson planners, and learners to collaborate and cooperate so that endeavours like these to empower differently-abled people are successful in the long run.