Inclusive technical capital in the twenty-first century

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section


This chapter is a review of my work with an electrical engineering student I called Emma, who was studying at a higher education college in the United Arab Emirates. Emma had a severe and deteriorating visual impairment, and found it almost impossible to read or understand normal graphics in her text books because of her impairment. Emma also found it very difficult to write, use unmodified computers without a great deal of assistance, and use the complex equipment that she was used in her engineering classes. This had a negative effect on her technical literacy, her assessments, and meant that she was at risk of failing her program. Emma’s workload also increased at college, as she had to retake exams and put in more work than her peers to learn the visual elements of her topic. This extra work also caused mental and physical stress: the strain on her eyes left her increasingly tired when conducting normal exercises; the extra work she had to compensate for her visual impairment made it harder to be part of the college’s social activities or achieve high grades. In this review, I discuss her practice of technical literacy using an iPad as inclusive technical capital, a model I developed from helping this and similar students.
When I started working with Emma, I was asked to recommend technologies, literature and graphics that would help her reading technical literacy, as well as assist her reading and writing. As a tool whose inclusive features I’d read positive reviews of, I recommended using the iPad to help Emma, as it had a range of iBooks and could download and enlarge text files. The iPad also had built-in apps and settings for enlarging text, changing and reversing colors of images and synthesizing voices for speaking text or describing icons. This equipment helped her develop technical capital and expand her technical literacy, although I found there were still problems that needed to be overcome with the initial setup and the information provided by Apple.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInclusion, Equity and Access for Individuals with Disabilities
Subtitle of host publicationInsights from Educators across World
EditorsSantoshi Halder, Vassilios Argyropoulos
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9789811359620
ISBN (Print)9789811359613
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2019


  • blind
  • Visual impairment
  • iPad
  • higher education
  • engineering
  • support
  • Disability
  • inclusion
  • inclusive technical capital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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