Article | Open Access
Developing Inclusive Technical Capital beyond the Disabled Students’ Allowance in England
Abstract: The Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) is a government grant for students aged 18 years and over in English Higher Education. Amongst other things, this grant supports the provision of traditional assistive technologies. In April 2014, the UK’s Minister for Universities, Science and Cities proposed cuts to the DSA. Although a later announcement delayed these cuts until the academic year 2016−2017, a number of universities are already preparing alternative means to support disabled students. In this article, it is argued that cuts to the DSA will potentially reduce the cultural and technical capitals of students with disabilities and lessen social inclusion in Higher Education. In particular, less support will potentially lead to a reduction in the development of study skills. As a counter weight, this article proposes a new model of inclusive technical capital. This model originates in Bourdieu’s theory of cultural capital and habitus. The proposed model supports the use of native apps and settings in ubiquitous mainstream mobile technologies. It also espouses the use of m-learning for the passive inclusion of students with disabilities. This article also presents the early results of a project on the use of mobile technologies at the London School of Economics and Canterbury Christ Church University. This project found that students with disabilities and their lecturers already used mobile technologies alongside or instead of customized traditional assistive technologies. The project also found that students preferred not to attend, or found it difficult to attend, separate study skills courses using mobile technologies. However, they were more likely to access m-learning tutorial materials on Learning Management Systems. The study concludes that mobile technologies have the potential to develop a number of study skills that are at risk after cuts to the DSA. However, their use in this regard needs further research and support from universities.
Keywords: assistive technology; cultural capital; disability; exclusion; inclusion; inclusive technology; m-learning; mobile technical capital; smartphones; tablets; technology
© Simon Hayhoe, Kris Roger, Sebastiaan Eldritch-Böersen and Linda Kelland. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.