Domain: Research

Themes: Assistive & Accessible Technology, Inclusive Educational Technology

ICT Landscape review - The use of ICT in improving the educational participation & outcomes

Information and communication technology (ICT) tools can have a catalytic effect in advancing both educational access and learning outcomes for children with disabilities.

Despite tremendous potential, a gap exists between technology advancements and their large-scale application in educating children with disabilities in low- and middle-income countries. This landscape review of ICTs for disability-inclusive education by the Inclusive Education Initiative seeks to understand the current status and trends in the practice of educational technology (EdTech) and the use of ICT in improving the educational participation and outcomes of children with disabilities. The review explores what factors enable or restrict this improvement within the wider EdTech ecosystem.

The review

GDI Hub partnered with the World Bank to design and conduct the research, and author the ICT Landscape review: The use of ICT in improving the educational participation and outcomes of children with disabilities.

This report is a global knowledge product from the Inclusive Education Initiative (IEI)—a multi-donor trust fund on disability-inclusive education managed by the World Bank, with support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

The review explores how ICT supported the continued learning of children with disabilities during COVID-19 related school closures. The report shares insights from the experiences of multiple stakeholders, including teachers, parents and caregivers, government officials, and civil society. Global insights were supplemented with country case studies to draw out examples of what is and is not working across 6 P’s: people, products, pedagogy, policy, place, and provision.

It also explores the Innovation-Enabled Education For All approach that incorporates four interconnected components to harness the potential of educational and assistive technology into tangible and successful learning outcomes for children with disabilities.


The review identified six key challenges that need to be overcome to ensure that learners with disabilities are fully able to access and benefit from ICT for inclusive education. People. Teachers, parents, and other educational support figures lack sufficient expertise in inclusive education and ICT and access to supports to successfully support children with disabilities to access and take advantage of EdTech.

  • Products: Most EdTech devices and software are too expensive for families and schools, limiting their affordability and accessibility. Many products also fail to be truly inclusive of children with more complex needs, are poorly aligned with national curricula or are inappropriate for the context of use.
  • Pedagogy: There is a lack of understanding about the useful pedagogical approaches and simple and reliable assessment practices to assess the educational needs of children with disabilities, or what pedagogical approaches (and tools) will be most effective. Nor are there often mechanisms in place for monitoring their progress to ensure that any adaptations, including technology provided, positively impact their learning experiences.
  • Policy: Existing policies for inclusive education and ICT are often separate and poorly integrated, which makes it difficult to coordinate actions across government bodies with fragmented responsibilities and between actors working in different areas.
  • Place: Inclusive and mainstream schools struggle to access the necessary equipment that students with disabilities need, and teachers are often lacking the inclusive-education training, which leads to a risk of further marginalization of students with disabilities.
  • Provision: Funding mechanisms are often project-based and rarely combine a comprehensive attention to all the necessary components of successful implementation from creating adequate technological infrastructure to providing training and maintenance for the correct use of devices. This leads to poor sustainability of many initiatives and reduces the potential impact of many implemented projects. A vital aspect of provision is procurement.


  1. Strengthen systems and shape markets to systematically improve the provision of inclusive education and reduce the cost of assistive ICT for inclusive-education products.
  2. Develop a “massive-small” technology and service infrastructure for inclusive education to enable massive-scale distribution of evidence-based, small-scale innovations.
  3. Strengthen community, family, and out of-school learning supports to ensure continuity of learning across different settings.
  4. Capture better data and evidence vital to policy making, identification of learners, early intervention, and mapping of progress.