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Highlighting the expanding field of assistive technology, the University of Dundee has developed a new master’s degree that aims to enhance the learning experience of disabled students facing barriers to their education.

The new MSc in Educational Assistive Technology within the university’s School of Science and Engineering will train individuals how to implement and support the use of technology within education to enable students with a broad range of learning difficulties and/or physical disabilities access curriculum.

By the university offering assistive technology as a postgraduate degree, this could mean there is a new generation of innovators and unique products on the way.

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Assistive technology supports disabled people to carry out tasks that would otherwise be difficult or impossible for them to complete, such as moving around, eating, drinking and getting dressed. These solutions help people to live as independently as possible and encompasses a broad range of products like powerchairs, prosthetics and specialist seating.

Launching early next year, the new masters aims to enhance the support to students who require assistive technology by establishing the role of an Educational Assistive Technologist to ensure that technologies are deployed and supported across the service provision for learners.

The programme is primarily aimed at teachers, therapists and technologists who are seeking to develop and enhance their ability to support learners who require assistive devices.

“This Masters degree has been developed to address a global need for the professionalisation of the ‘Assistive Technologist’ role within all levels of education provision”, said Programme Director Professor Annalu Waller.

“Despite the potential of AT to enable children and young people with complex physical, learning and communication impairments to access education, this technology is seldom adopted and often abandoned.

“This programme will ensure that skills, knowledge and working methodology are gained by Educational Assistive Technologists that are not typically taught in other programmes. Currently these skills are developed through many years of practice in AT-mature organisations.

“Educational Assistive Technologists will have the skills needed to harness and adapt AT to enable learners to access the curriculum in ways that suit them.”

Course participants already working in an assistive technology environment will complement theoretical learning with projects within their workplace. Students will also interact with expert users of assistive devices within the university’s unique User Centre and placements. Once qualified, they will undertake the assessment, provisioning and ongoing support of assistive technology systems within specialist and mainstream education or social care organisations.

The programme builds on the expertise in Accessibility and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Technology within computing and the ongoing collaboration across other schools at the University of Dundee.

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