The Experiences of Higher Education Students with Disabilities in Online Learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Nomzamo Dube
Centre for Transdisciplinary Studies, University of Fort Hare, Alice, South Africa
Lulekwa Baleni
Teaching and Learning Centre, University of Fort Hare, Alice, South Africa
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online learning
blended learning

How to Cite

Dube, N., & Baleni, L. (2022). The Experiences of Higher Education Students with Disabilities in Online Learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of Culture and Values in Education, 5(1), 59-77.


Although institutions of higher learning had been gradually exposed to blended and online methods of learning, most of them still preferred and utilised traditional, face-to-face learning for various reasons. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that caused lockdowns in countries worldwide, blended or online learning became more important to enable continuity of education. The inevitability of change during the pandemic and the hurried paradigm shift from traditional methods of learning came with different implications to institutions of higher learning. Online learning experiences have been extensively researched, however, they have not been adequately focused on students with disabilities. Students with disabilities are expected to be accommodated in learning environments at institutions of higher education. Using the Social Model of Disability, the study elucidates the experiences of students with disabilities of an institution of higher education in South Africa with online learning. The study is crucial in that it determines the extent to which online learning promotes inclusivity. Data was collected using semi-structured interviews and analysed using thematic analysis. The study concluded that online learning has both advantages and disadvantages for students with varying disabilities. Students with mobility and visual disabilities preferred online learning, which allows them to study in the comfort of their residences while students with intellectual disabilities preferred traditional/contact methods of learning. Most participants indicated that their online lecturers are not aware of their disabilities and thus, their methods of instruction and assessment are not as inclusive.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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