Blind Student! How to deal with this?

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Blind Student! How to deal with this?

Unread postby seomyunas » 08 Mar 2007, 01:37

I supervise teachers in a private adult academy in Korea. Yesterday we had a blind student register in one of our intermediate conversation classes.
My teacher is asking me for advice on how to deal with this and I don't know how to advise her, being that I've never done this before.

Most classroom activities come directly from our company-written textbook, and if she can't read or see the pictures then I'm at a loss for how she can effectively participate in class. I should also mention that our classes have a maximum of 12 students.

Lucy, can you give me some tips? I'd really appreciate anything you might have to help.
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Blind student. How to deal with this?

Unread postby Lucy » 12 Mar 2007, 19:58

Dear Seomyunas,

The first thing to do is to find out the student’s degree of blindness. How much vision does she have? She might have partial vision and be able see or read things that are in large print. In which case, if the teacher writes things out in large print, the student will be able to follow. Also find out from the student the history of her blindness; was she born with sight? If she was, she will have some visual memory and the teacher will be able to use this when describing objects, etc.

Ask the student about any software or technology she has. Software exists for transcribing material into Braille. The teacher might be able to make use of this. In any case, the student is the expert on her state of blindness and what helps most. A short chat with her to hear her ideas and opinions will certainly help.

People who are blind often have other senses that are very highly developed and it’s important to capitalise on this. Whenever possible, take realia into the classroom. The blind student will be able to touch and feel the objects; this will be useful for learning new vocabulary. It will also be more memorable for the sighted students. You say this student is at intermediate level, so she should have a good understanding of spoken English. The teacher should give detailed oral descriptions of any visual supports used. Whenever the teacher is writing on the board, she should say aloud what she is writing. Spelling aloud new vocabulary will help too; this will also benefit the sighted students.

You could ask the other students to pair up with the blind student and to be the guide for the day. That person is responsible for assisting in any visual tasks or exercises. You might even find that they choose to do homework together; working in a group can also benefit sighted students. However, it’s important to remember that the blind student is an equal member of the class and the class shouldn’t be disrupted or adapted to meet all her needs. The teacher should carry out the class normally with certain modifications and refinements.

I also suggest you look in the special needs forum; a blind teacher of English has posted some messages there.

Best wishes,

Lucy
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