To begin with, it is necessary to emphasize that the communication process, and the innovative augmentation technologies, which are used in the education and communication practices are dependent on numerous factors and various aspects of cultural background, linguistic particularities, ethical approaches and norms of behavior, as well as active communication strategies. The augmentative techniques, which are used in the educational processes tend to play an increasingly important role in performing successful communication among students with disabilities and teachers. In the light of this fact, there is strong necessity to analyze the augmentative communication techniques in the educational processes, and research the issues of teaching students, resorting to these techniques.
The education process with the application of augmentative communication technologies presupposes the use of the specific systems and techniques. Nevertheless, the issues of cross-cultural communication in the educational environment, complicated by the communicational disabilities of the student may cause essential miscommunication and improper teaching process as a result. Originally, technologies do not recognize cultural differences or language backgrounds, and, it is unimportant whether a student resorts to FM system or Sound field system. The fact is that, cultural differences and language background may be regarded as the obstacle for teachers only, nevertheless, everything depends on the experience of every particular teacher to deal with the multicultural groups of students. Thus, as Hundley (2005, p. 319) emphasizes in his research: “The most effective and functional Augmentative Assistive Communication intervention for an individual is defined by the means of personal assessment, and should always use the team approach. The assessment process generally entails the opinions and estimations by speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, the individual and his or her family members, an educator and rehab engineer. The age, disability and goals of each individual will determine the makeup of the assessment team. Physical therapy, vocational rehabilitation, psychology, social services, recreational therapy, vision therapy, audiology, and medicine are other disciplines which may be involved in the assessment.” In the light of the fact of this statement it should be emphasized that the assessment process is an important part of cross-cultural communication in general, nevertheless, when students with disabilities participate in the educational process, it should be emphasized that educators will have to take into consideration possible difficulties associated with their understanding and perception of the materials.
Teaching students with disabilities requires individual approach towards everyone. In spite of the fact, that special technologies may be used for teaching, students will require at least minor adaptation of the teaching course in accordance with their disabilities. These may be either visual or audio adaptations of the learning materials, which will help students with sight or hearing disabilities perceive the learning materials more effectively.
Such technologies as FM systems and sound field systems are aimed at assisting people with sight disabilities orient in the space and find the ways to the most important objects. As for the teaching process, these systems may be used for translating the learning materials by the means of FM radio translation, thus, people with partial hearing disabilities may adjust the volume level in accordance with their requirements, thus, simplifying the teacher’s task. Nevertheless, these techniques may appear to be insufficient, and students with physical or learning disabilities may require some accommodations for the successful learning or completing the tasks, as well as writing their exams. The accommodations will include the following:
- Writing assistance for the transcription of their written answers.
- Separate room with properly adjusted lighting, producing as few distractions as possible.
- Computer systems should be equipped with audiovisual aid systems, oriented for people with disabilities.
- Some students will have to be provided an extended time for passing the exam
- Oral and visual forms of the exams should be available (Mehra, 2005, p. 336).
Augmentative and Assistive Communication
In order to help the collocutors from various cultural backgrounds understand each other better, the argumentation and assistive communication strategies were elaborated. Originally, these strategies are based on the openness of the minds of each collocutor, and readiness to understand each other. The fact is that, if a person does not wish to understand the differences with some other person, it will be hard to expect some communication and mutual understanding. The application of these strategies requires awareness of the differences within the cultures and similarities of the aims and goals. Thus, the main rule of assistive communication strategy is to define the common aims of the communication process in general, and compare these similarities with the differences of the cultural and linguistic origin. Thus, a clear realization of the obstacles of the communication process will help to overcome these obstacles easily.
Taking into consideration the behavior of the students of various cultural origins and teacher is one of the most important factors of the cross-cultural communication. The fact is that, there is strong necessity to avoid such topics, which are regarded from various points in different cultures, such as terrorism, democracy, religion, sex relations and emancipation as well as racial discrimination. The main task of the teacher is not to touch upon these topics, and act as a moderator: he or she will have to follow the discussion threads accurately and very attentively in order to avoid “unnecessary” topics and redirect the thread if some of such topics were touched upon.
Finally, it should be stated that the miscommunication and misunderstanding, which may be experienced by the collocutors from different parts of the world generally originate from the differences of cultural and linguistic background. Different cultures incorporate various forms of social behavior and communication practices. Consequently, these factors should be taken into consideration while teaching students with disabilities who are of different cultural origins. Thus, different gestures, mimicry, intonations may cause various problems ranging from simple misunderstanding to offense and even conflict. Thus, before starting intercultural communication, there is strong necessity to get at least general information on the cultural and linguistic norms, and be open-minded for understanding the collocutor and realizing his or her needs and goals. As for the matters of Augmentative Communication techniques, it should be emphasized that the teaching process will have to be restructured in accordance with the requirements of the disabled students. Bearing in mind the difficulties, which students experience, the teaching process and the learning courses should provide additional opportunities for students with sight, hearing, or learning disabilities.
Büchel, B. S. (2001). Using Communication Technology : Creating Knowledge Organizations /. New York: Palgrave.
Hundley, H. L. (2005). The Digital Dilemma: Making the Most of the Digital Communication Technology and Pedagogy. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 49(1), 147.
Mehra, B. (2005). Library and Information Science (LIS) and Community Development: The Use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) towards a Social Equity Agenda. Journal of the Community Development Society, 36(1), 28.
Wood, A. F., & Smith, M. J. (2005). Online Communication: Linking Technology, Identity, and Culture (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.