ASHA journals
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School-based SLT services using ICT (Zahir et al., 2021)

journal contribution
posted on 2021-03-10, 02:50 authored by Mariyam Z. Zahir, Anna Miles, Linda Hand, Elizabeth C. Ward
Purpose: Access to speech-language therapy services for children with communication difficulties is limited in vulnerable countries within the Majority world, such as Small Island Developing States. The use of information and communication technology (ICT) has been identified as a possible solution to provide equitable access to services in Minority world countries. This study explored ICT-related conditions in remote schools of the Maldives, a Small Island Developing State, in order to identify potential service delivery approaches.
Method: A mixed methods approach was used, involving (a) an online survey of 107 teachers, (b) observational data from four schools, (c) interviews with 31 teachers and the four principals of participating schools, and (d) 13 relevant online documents. Content analysis was used to analyze and integrate data from all sources.
Results: Teachers’ access to ICT devices and fixed broadband Internet varied across schools. The government had limited funds to provide adequate fixed broadband Internet for them. However, favorable prospects were also discovered, including high access to 4G mobile broadband Internet in islands, high levels of confidence among teachers to use ICT, a variety of ICT uses currently employed by teachers, and the presence of financial aid for students with special education needs.
Conclusions: The findings of the study support the potential for using mobile broadband Internet, available ICT devices, and teachers as agents of service delivery in remote schools to enhance speech-language therapy service delivery in the Maldives. The creation of relevant digital educational content for teachers could further support children with communication difficulties in the country.

Supplemental Material S1. Teachers survey: sections related to this study.

Supplemental Material S2. Education and ICT milestones and actions in the Maldives.

Zahir, M. Z., Miles, A., Hand, L., & Ward, E. C. (2021). Information and communication technology in schools: Its contribution to equitable speech-language therapy services in an underserved small island developing state. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools. Advance online publication.