Within the study sample (N=6966), 11.3% (n=787) declare a disability. 45.6% are informal learners, 34.6% formal learners and 17.5% educators (a similar distribution to non-disabled respondents). Disabled respondents are, on the whole, older, less qualified and less likely to be in full-time employment than non-disabled respondents. While much of the (minimal) literature on OER accessibility covers physical disability, mental health problems emerge as the most common disability amongst OERH survey respondents. We found no significant differences in disabled and non-disabled survey respondents’ open educational practices, with nearly 80% of each category having adapted OER but few having created resources and published them on an open license. Interestingly though, when asked about the challenges encountered in using OER, more disabled than non-disabled survey respondents indicated that (a) technology problems are an obstacle when downloading resources, and (b) lack of skill is an obstacle to editing resources. This fits with a broader picture of digital exclusion for disabled people. Disabled and non-disabled educators and learners broadly agree about the impact of OER on students’ learning. However, fewer disabled than non-disabled formal learners report that OER use results in their increased participation in class discussions and only 26% of disabled formal learners suggest using OER has resulted in their grades improving (compared with 40.2% of non-disabled formal learners).
Our study shows that among the OERH survey respondents there is some difference between disabled and non-disabled learners’ and educators’ use of OER and attitudes towards openness. However, further research is needed to fully understand the use of OER and OEP by people with different types of disability, and whether disabled learners and educators are more or less likely to use OER than their non-disabled peers.
ITU/G3ict (2014) Model ICT Accessibility Policy Report. Available from http://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Digital-Inclusion/Persons-with-Disabilities/Documents/ICT%20Accessibility%20Policy%20Report.pdf. [Accessed 20 November 2015]
United Nations (2006), Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Available from http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/conventionfull.shtml. [Accessed 23 November 2015]