Technology is transforming the world around us but one AUT student is leveraging his life experience to ensure everyone benefits equally from high-tech advances.
David Lincoln, who has cerebral palsy and a stutter, is part-way through his post-graduate study. While he hasn’t finalised his research topic it is likely to focus on how digital technology can enable the physically impaired to participate in the workforce or higher education.
This builds on the applied project he completed for his undergraduate degree, which investigated digital technology’s connection with the learning process of university students with physical and speech impairments. David (Ngati Pikiao, Te Arawa) graduated with a Bachelor of Business, majoring in accounting and information systems, during AUT’s winter graduation ceremony but is continuing his studies with the goal of completing an honours degree.
When he left Kaipara College to study business at AUT, the 24-year-old says he originally had his sights set on an accounting and finance major. But with his extensive use of technology in day-to-day life David says the switch from finance to information systems made sense and one he doesn’t regret.
“In today’s society we are dependent on technology. It’s important to know how to utilise this technology to the fullest, not only in a business sense but in a way that can benefit society as a whole.
“Technology is a powerful tool that can have many uses – I want to learn how it can be used,” David says.
His research supervisor, Dr Antonio Díaz Andrade, says David is in a unique position to provide an authentic, insightful explanation of the advantages and challenges of using digital technology in an educational setting.
“David brings perseverance. He is a committed student who works hard to achieve his academic goals.”
Antonio says his interactions with David has made him consider his own teaching practice.
“I want to make sure that David is not disadvantaged in any sense, while making sure that the content is delivered and the learning goals achieved.
“Although in the beginning I was a bit unsure about how he could cope with academic demands, David’s attitude and performance gave me the certainty that he was well prepared to take on the challenges inherent in student life. He adapted well to the different degrees of difficulty and class dynamics that different levels of studies involve,” says Antonio.
Reflecting on his time at AUT, David says being able to meet people from all walks of life and different cultures has been a highlight. While his speech impediment can make leaving a good first impression difficult, David says he’s made great friendships with people he has studied and done group projects alongside.
Looking forward to life beyond study David says he’d like to gain some work experience – a role in the defence force would be a dream job, particularly given he is fascinated with military history.
“Right now I’ll just ride the academic train as far as it will take me,” he says.