Assistive Technology's Effect on the Academic Performance of Students with Disabilities: An Investigative Study at Higher Education Institutions in the UAE

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
Assistive Technology (AT) has a significant role in helping people with disabilities to function better in society. The AT becomes an indispensable tool across the education realm, which can be linked to the more significant academic achievement for Students with Disabilities (SWDs). Furthering and integrating AT in higher education settings permits the practice of independence and social participation of SWDs along with their peers free from discrimination based on disability. Accordingly, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) provides great efforts to promote social inclusion by integrating people with disabilities in everyday activities, such as work, sports, and education. The UAE embraced best global practices and solutions in this field through the standards of services provided, initiatives, and technology as a result of implementing the National Policy in Empowering People of Determination and Federal Law No. 29 of the Year 2006 on the Rights of People with Special Needs. This study aims to examine the effects of AT on the academic performance of SWDs in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the UAE. A mixed methods approach of data collection was applied to gathering data quantitatively and qualitatively, which included a questionnaire, interview and analysis of official documents. The target sample population of the study consists of SWDs, teachers and specialist staff who understand the necessity of AT services and evaluate barriers in promoting AT effectively. This study revealed the extraordinary benefits of the use of AT as a way to increase the academic performance of SWDs in HEIs and identifies the major challenges that hinder the successful implementation of AT. The study recommends establishing AT services and support centers in HEIs along with creating an AT Act to be regulate these provisions in the UAE
assistive technology, United Arab Emirates (UAE), disabilities, higher education, academic performance, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)