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Address digital learning needs of children with learning differences

Lalitpur | February 2022:

OLE Nepal initiated this project to create accessible and inclusive content with the aim to reduce disparities that children with disabilities are facing with their learning. In this project we worked to increase inclusive access to learning materials on our free and open digital learning platforms – E-Paath and E-Pustakalaya

An integral part of this project was creating books in Nepali language that can be used with assistive technology. To make our digital library accessible, we enlisted the help of Nepali digital accessibility experts, and users of assistive technology. Our team completed the conversion of school textbooks, enabling students with visual-impairments to browse through them. Altogether, 30 books were converted into accessible formats. Converted books were tested by the Accessibility advisor and blind users familiar with text-to-speech (TTS) software and optical character recognition (OCR) on devices with assistive technology and other accessibility features. We modified our approach to make our digital library and learning content accessible to students with disabilities. Our programmers ran tests on our free and open digital library to ensure it meets Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

To test our content, we launched a pilot program on technology-based accessible learning for blind and partially sighted students at Namuna Machhindra High School at Lagankhel, Lalitpur. 10 new laptops with accessibility features and assistive technology were added to the resource center at the school, along with an offline digital library-E-Pustakalaya server. Our team completed a three-day training for teachers and students on February 17, 2022. The school has three teachers for the blind and 40 students who are blind or partially sighted.

The main objective of the training was to enable the teachers and students to use computers for digital learning and browse E-Pustakalaya using assistive technology. Participants included three teachers, and eight blind or partially sighted students. The training was designed to be a fully hands-on experience for the participants. Most of the students were being introduced to laptops for learning for the first time, but they adapted to the new machines quickly. With the lessons and skills learnt from this initiative, OLE Nepal is looking for further opportunities to convert more Nepali books into accessible formats.

Photos from the training program at Namuna Machhindra High School at Lagankhel, Lalitpur:

We also integrated Nepali Sign Language in our existing content. To make the learning experience inclusive for students with hearing impairments, we worked with Nepali Sign Language (NSL) experts and interpreters to create NSL instructional videos and embed them on digital learning content 288 E-Paath for Grades 1-6. While all of the contents in E-Paath has text for corresponding audio/sounds, we believe that students with hearing impairments will benefit from the NSL instruction that we have added within each E-Paath lesson and exercise.

A five-day teacher training program was conducted at Shree Adarsha Saula Yubak Secondary School in Lalitpur, on February 20-24, 2022, to launch the Nepali Sign Language pilot program. Our technical team completed the installation and computer lab set-up with 12 Raspberry Pi computers and digital library server in the week before the training. The hands-on training program focused on technical and pedagogical aspects of the program. The E-Paath lessons with new sign language videos, and methods of integrating digital content in daily classroom teaching were the core elements of the training. 

Five Nepali Sign Language teachers in the school were introduced to technical aspects of the program, which included the Raspberry Pi computers and offline digital library server. Teachers were briefed on basic troubleshooting skills so they are able to handle computer networks on their own. Trainers also went over classroom management skills to help them improve student engagement and participation. The training program was designed to develop teachers’ aptitude to seek reference and include them in their lesson delivery. The school was encouraged to create a maintenance fund to foster sustainable use of all these equipment. 

Photos and video from the training program at Shree Adarsha Saula Yubak Secondary School in Lalitpur:

OLE Nepal’s technical and content team will provide support based on the school’s requirements and collect valuable feedback for content enhancement. Our content team will also monitor the usage during this period. Through these pilot programs, we intend to collaborate with the teachers and students at the school to collect feedback on their user experiences and continue to make improvements to the content. 

This project is being implemented in partnership with UNICEF and KDDI Foundation.