How schools in East Asia and the Pacific can implement assistive educational technologies in their classrooms

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Midsection of blind girl reading braille book in classroom A new report recommends ways to enhance the integration of assistive educational technologies in classrooms in East Asia and the Pacific. Copyright: Shutterstock

How is East Asia and the Pacific integrating assistive educational technologies in its classrooms? For students with disabilities, these technologies can be more than just tools; they offer gateways to equitable education.

A new World Bank report, “Use of Assistive Education Technologies to Support Children with Visual and Hearing Difficulties in the East Asia and Pacific Region,” dives into the current state of these technologies in the region highlighting examples from countries that have made progress, the role of the private sector, and three key recommendations for turning the vision of fully inclusive education into a reality.

However, implementing these assistive technologies widely faces several barriers. The report identifies that many initiatives are small and often use technology not specifically designed for the local context. In the public sector, the lack of data collection and reporting is a major barrier. The private sector faces its own challenges, including limited awareness of assistive technology needs, insufficient training and expertise, and financial constraints. These factors, along with the challenge of standardizing products for diverse requirements, significantly impede the adoption and efficacy of assistive educational technologies.

Countries face unique challenges

In one example highlighted in the report, Vietnam showcases a mix of advancements and obstacles in providing assistive EdTech at scale. Even though Vietnam has policies aimed at promoting inclusivity, limited budgets and infrastructure deficits mean that only 2 percent of schools are accessible for students with disabilities.  

The Nhat Hong Center for the Blind in Thu Duc provides a possible way forward. The center has successfully developed specialized software to aid 340 visually impaired children in accessing digital educational resources, demonstrating the impactful role of localized, innovative solutions.

Another example comes from Pacific small island nations like the Kingdom of Tonga. The geographical remoteness of these islands severely limits access to special needs support, directly impacting students on more isolated islands. Data concerning the prevalence of visual and hearing impairments is scarce, which limits the development of targeted technological solutions. Resource constraints extend to human resources: the whole country has only four special education teachers proficient in sign language.

Recommendations for integrating assistive technologies

The report suggests three recommendations to enhance the integration of assistive educational technologies in classrooms in the region. It is aimed at creating a more inclusive and effective educational landscape for all learners, particularly those with disabilities.

  1. Enhanced data reporting and analysis

The first step towards addressing the gaps in assistive technology usage is to establish robust data reporting mechanisms. This involves collecting comprehensive data on the prevalence of visual and hearing impairments, as well as other disabilities, within the student population. Accurate and detailed data will enable educators and policymakers to understand the scope of needs and tailor EdTech solutions effectively. Regular monitoring and evaluation of these technologies' impact are also crucial for continuous improvement and adaptation.

  1. Engaging with the private sector

To harness the innovative potential of technology, it is essential to foster closer collaboration between educational institutions and the private sector. Encouraging technology companies to explore the field of assistive EdTech through incentives and awareness campaigns can lead to the development of groundbreaking tools tailored to diverse learning needs. This partnership should focus on creating solutions that are not only technologically advanced but also accessible and user-friendly for students with disabilities.

  1. Building partnerships with civil society organizations

Civil society organizations, including NGOs and community groups, play a pivotal role in raising awareness about the importance of inclusive education. Collaborating with these organizations can help in sensitizing communities, advocating for policy changes, and providing the necessary support to educators and students. These partnerships can also be instrumental in piloting new technologies, training teachers, and providing feedback for the refinement of assistive EdTech solutions.

Achieving inclusivity

The path to fully inclusive education in East Asia and the Pacific requires a concerted effort from all stakeholders. By focusing on enhanced data reporting, engaging with the private sector, and building partnerships with civil society, we can pave the way for a future where every child, irrespective of their abilities, has access to the education they deserve. 


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Lauri Pynnonen

Senior Education Specialist

Noah Yarrow

Senior Education Specialist

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