Investigating the Use of “Lughati Tablets” to Promote Arabic Reading Skills to Students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities: A case study at The Sharjah City of Humanitarian Services (UAE)

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
Acquiring reading proficiency starts at early ages and develops throughout the years however with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) children, this process does not on the whole move along standardized norms for reading development based on chronological age. This study examines the reading development of SEND students who are using Lughati tablets as Assistive Technologies (AT) to support their reading progress in Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services (SCHS). Investigating the use of AT is important due to the various tools that these tablets provide to enable SEND students access educational resources. The study seeks to find answers to 3 main topics: How effective are Lughati tablets in improving the SEND students’ Arabic reading skills? What are the teachers’ and IT supervisor’s experiences and opinions towards using Lughati tablets with SEND students? How can Lughati tablets be best used to support SEND students in developing their reading skills? A total of 10 SEND students diagnosed with down syndrome, mild intellectual disability, cerebral palsy and borderline intellectual functioning were examined in this study. The methodology involved both qualitative and quantitative methods and data was collected from the SEND students’ performances as well as teachers’ interviews. Results revealed that overall the Lughati tablets are worth investing for these types of disabilities however it does not imply that these students will be able to read Arabic on their own or score within the normal reading ranges of typically developing children after using the Lughati tablets. The borderline intellectual functioning and cerebral palsy students scored the highest compared to the other disabilities in the study. The mild intellectual disability candidate required more time to develop one reading task at a time whereas the down syndrome students were the least achieving due to their lower capabilities in phonological demanding tasks. Down syndrome students showed progress in visual related tasks more than the other tasks. The study highlights that it might be beneficial for SEND students to use Lughati as an AT along with other comprehensive and explicit reading instructions. In addition, teachers showed positive attitude in using Lughati tablets in their classrooms and they highly recommended that the tablets get modified to be tailored to these students’ learning needs and capabilities. Interestingly, teachers were using Lughati tablets to assist borderline intellectual functioning students in overcoming their learning difficulties and later enroll in regular education schools. Although this study is limited to a small number of participants and is based in a single location, this study conveyed the possibility of using Lughati tablets to teach SEND students reading Arabic. Finally, further research can be done to examine the effect of collaborative learning when using Lughati tablets on the SEND students’ reading skills.
assistive technology, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, borderline intellectual functioning, mild intellectual disability, Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), Lughati tablets