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Online communication and discussion environment for the visually disabled students at a public university

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2008
Emiroğlu, Bülent Gürsel
This study aims to discover the perceptions of the visually disabled students at a public university in Ankara, Turkey for attending and participating in an online communication and discussion environment on the Web to access information and establish social relationships with others. The purpose of this research is six folds: (1) to investigate the current status of the visually disabled university students at a public university in Ankara, Turkey for accessing and using computers and the Internet, (2) to learn the kind of web sites that those students prefer to visit on the Internet, (3) to discover the topics and subject they prefer to see in the Web forum that will be designed and developed for them, (4) to identify the topics and subjects in the Web forum that those visually disabled university students mostly visited for reading, replying and adding new titles under them, (5) to show the effects of the Web forum on the participants for accesing information and establishing social relationships with others, (6) to learn the views and opinions of those visually v disabled university students about that Web forum after actively participating and spending meaningful time in it. In this study, mixed research method is used. The participants of this study were the visually disabled students of a public university in Ankara, Turkey and found by the researcher with the help of an academician colleague working in the Special Education Department under the Faculty of Education in that university. In that university, there were totally 39 visually disabled students and 36 of them accepted to be enrolled in this study on a voluntary basis. Within the scope of the study, “EnabledForum - EngelsizForum” was designed and developed by the researcher as a communication and discussion environment for those visually disabled university students for enabling them to establish social relationships with others via submitted posts for the topics and subjects of the forum. Moreover, this forum helped those visually disabled university students for accessing up-to-date information from the Web based sources. Finally, the usage logs of the “EnabledForum - EngelsizForum” helped the researcher to analyse and report which topics and subjects were mostly interested by those visually disabled university students.