Epistemic access for students using assistive technology in the introduction of online teaching


  • Thulile Duma Mangosuthu University of Technology
  • Lydia Lindiwe Chamane Mangosuthu University of Technology




Students with disabilities, social inclusion, social justice, inclusive education, Covid19.


Purpose: The epistemic access and success for students with disabilities remain a topical issue in higher education, more so during the transition to online teaching and learning that was ignited by Covid19. This study aims to examine how the epistemic access of students using assistive technology was imperilled during Covid19 lockdown restrictions. Methodology: This qualitative study is based at this university of technology in KwaZulu Natal Province in South Africa. A total of 25 students with disabilities who use different assistive technologies were identified through purposive sampling, amongst 57 registered students with disabilities. The data was collected through semi-structured interviews and as a means of triangulation, a focus group was also held with thirteen students. The data was thereafter thematically analysed. Findings: Students reported extraordinary difficulties in accessing and utilising assistive devices, due to lack of appropriate assistive technology, technical skills, poor network, and support. This perpetuated discrimination, social exclusion, and injustices in higher education for students with disabiliites. Some had to double their efforts to access their lessons and assessments. Even though their epistemic access was disrupted; they displayed a resilient character. Conclusion: Online or blended teaching and learning appear to be the future trend in higher education, thus; effective plans and systems alignment are required to avoid exclusion of students with disabilities in the learning digital space. To continue to promote social inclusion and inclusive education in higher education institutions, the provision and procurement of assistive technologies must be prioritised. Students with disabilities should be amongst other key stakeholders in the planning of future teaching and learning.




How to Cite

Duma T, Chamane LL. Epistemic access for students using assistive technology in the introduction of online teaching. DCIDJ [Internet]. 2023 Sep. 1 [cited 2024 Jun. 17];34(1):27-45. Available from: https://dcidj.uog.edu.et/index.php/up-j-dcbrid/article/view/670



Original Research Articles