Acceptance of assistive technology for vision impaired students in the Saudi universities

Author: Saeed Alshahrani

Alshahrani, Saeed, 2020 Acceptance of assistive technology for vision impaired students in the Saudi universities, Flinders University, College of Science and Engineering

Terms of Use: This electronic version is (or will be) made publicly available by Flinders University in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. You may use this material for uses permitted under the Copyright Act 1968. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material and/or you believe that any material has been made available without permission of the copyright owner please contact with the details.


Assistive technology (AT) can help students with visual impairments to achieve their study goals but use of AT in Saudi universities is lower than expected. This study investigated barriers that hinder the acceptance of assistive technology by Saudi students with visual impairments, and it provides recommendations for improving acceptance.

The study used a formal model of technology acceptance based on the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT), extended to incorporate factors that have previously been found to influence acceptance of AT. Saudi university students with visual impairment were surveyed about their view of acceptance determinants, and the survey data was analysed using Structural Equational Modelling (SEM) with the Partial Least Squares (PLS) technique. The results showed that the factors influencing technology acceptance in this context differed from those previously found to influence acceptance in other contexts.

Follow-up interviews were conducted with both AT users and AT support workers to seek explanations for the differences. Interviewees identified a number of context-specific factors as potential explanations for the survey findings, including the importance of AT for visually impaired users, limited awareness of visual disability and AT, and psychological sensitivity of disabled users in Saudi culture.

This research contributes to three areas:

• It has contributed to technology acceptance modelling by extending the UTAUT model so that it specifically addresses assistive technology

• It has contributed to technology acceptance studies by evaluating the extended model in a real-world context.

• It has contributed to the Saudi educational system by investigating factors that shape acceptance of AT by visually disabled Saudi university students

An important outcome of this study is a set of suggestions and recommendations for overcoming barriers that limit the acceptance of assistive techniques by Saudi students with visual disabilities, thus increasing acceptance and adoption of these technologies and helping the students to improve their abilities and achieve equality with other students. The research will also increase awareness among the other citizens of Saudi Arabia and help them understand the need for assistive technology for impaired students. Finally, the Government of Saudi Arabia and education administrators can use the suggestions to provide information for initiating schemes to help visually impaired students in colleges and universities.

Although this study is specifically focused on studying the factors affecting the acceptance and adoption of assistive technologies by students with visual disabilities in Saudi universities, it is likely that outcomes from the study will have applicability beyond that scope. For example, findings about factors that affect assistive technology use for Saudi university students may well apply to students at other levels in the Saudi education system, and findings that apply in Saudi Arabia are likely to apply in other countries with similar culture and circumstances, such as other Arabic Countries, other Islamic countries, or even other developing countries. Finally, it is likely that recommendations for Saudi government and administrators in relation to access to assistive technology in universities will also facilitate access to other technologies and in other contexts.

Keywords: Assistive technology, visual impairments, visual disabilities, Saudi universities, acceptance, Saudi students, Saudi Arabia, Technology acceptance model, UTAUT.

Subject: Computer Science thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2020
School: College of Science and Engineering
Supervisor: A/Prof Paul Calder