SIGHT IMPAIRED STUDENTS FACING A GAME MAKING ENVIRONMENT: A “MAGICAL” CHALLENGE
In a logic of inclusive education, equal opportunities to all students should be guaranteed and the accessibility of ICT educational tools is then to be considered a major issue.
This paper presents a case study conducted in the context of MAGICAL (Making Games in Collaboration for Learning) a research project aimed at introducing game-making in formal education as an innovative educational approach. Actually, MAGICAL is a multilateral European project that investigates the viability and potential added value of Collaborative Digital Game Making (CDGM) for learning, especially for supporting learners’ transversal skills such as collaboration, creativity, problem solving and ICT literacy. In the framework of this project a specific game-making environment called MAGOS was designed, developed and deployed in different educational contexts with a variety of learners.
The case study proposed in this paper deals with one of the learners involved in these experiments; in particular it discusses around the suitability of the interface of the adopted game-making environment in respect to the “special needs” of a student with visual impairments.
G. is an eleven years old boy with albinism. His pathology affects, in particular, the visual apparatus, with reduced visual acuity, sensitivity to light and nystagmus. As well as all sight-impaired students, he has particular and unique visual needs and in order to adopt educational tools (and fully benefit from them) he requires specific adaptations (as an instance, G. usually adopts the magnifier).
Within the MAGICAL Project, a game making activity was proposed to G. in individual sessions and his responses were monitored. The experimental setting was situated at a regular session room of Chiossone Rehabilitation Centre, with a work table and PC equipped with specific hardware devices. The individual sessions were mainly guided by the rehab professional, with a researcher on hand to observe and provide support.
In this paper, the usability of the MAGOS educational game-making interface is discussed in respect to the needs of this specific child. Some general considerations are also drawn about the features that make an ICT environment more or less appropriate to students with sight impairments and about the general suitability of game-making activities for students with this kind of disability.