ACADEMIC SUCCESS OF PERSONS WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENT AND BLINDNESS IN THE TERTIARY SECTOR: EXPLANATORY MODEL

Theekshana Suraweera, Samanthi Bandara, Colinie Wickramarachchi, Navodya Dewage, Tharushi Gunawardana, Nilupuli Nanayakkara, Erandi Yapa, Samantha Thelijjagoda, Ruwan Jayathilaka

Abstract


Ensuring universal access to education is an effective and sustainable means of empowering people with visual impairment and blindness. Literature confirms that blindness of a person is not a barrier for learning, yet past research brings about a range of diverse obstacles for productive engagement in education due to universities being designed for the sighted persons. Given that the persons with impairment are looked after comparatively better in the western world than in the developing nations for realising their challenging academic goals. Purpose of this paper is to present the findings of a comprehensive study on the academic work of persons with visual impairment and blindness in the tertiary sector. This population included recent undergraduates and those who have completed a university degree. The two distinct outcomes presented are; (first phase) the critical factors influencing the academic performance of persons with visually impairment and blindness and, (second phase) an explanatory model that characterizes the construct ‘the academic performance’. Using a semi-structured questionnaire, purposely selected eleven key informant interviews were utilized for the first phase for the qualitative investigation. Thematic analysis was used as the main method of data analysis. The Second phase employed a sample survey. Fifty respondents who had studied in universities during the 5-year period from 2015-2020 were selected through snow-ball sampling. Exploratory factor analysis was used as the main data analysis technique. The key findings of phase one revealed that external support, physical environment, motivation to learn, instructional strategies, ICT and English literacy are major contributory factors to academic performance. The second phase of the quantitative analysis derived five composite factors. Of these, the factor labeled “Motivating influences” appears to be mostly contributing to the academic performance of persons with visual impairment and blindness. While education is a lifelong endeavor of a person, these findings can contribute to make a substantial change in the quality of life of this community in the long run.

 

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education, academic, persons with visual impairment and blindness

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.46827/ejse.v8i1.4118

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