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Educating Blind and Visually Impaired Student

By Colleen Palat

For a teacher or tutor, educating children has it’s challenges whether it’s in behavior modification or curriculum development. But what about when you get a student who is blind or visually impaired? Most teachers and tutors feel a little nervous to have such a student in their classroom simply because the disability is relatively rare and most people do not know what adaptations are needed for the student.

Thankfully, a Teacher of the Visually Impaired who focuses on life skills and academic issues, and an Orientation and Mobility Specialist who focuses on travel and mobility issues, services most blind and visually impaired students. Don’t be afraid to work closely with them, as they’ll be able to help you every step of the way.

Below are some general suggestions that may help you as you welcome your new student into the classroom. Be sure once you understand these basics that you consult with the parent and other support service members who can give you details on your student that can help you along the way.

1. When addressing the student who is blind or visually impaired, speak in a normal tone of voice. You’ll want to identify yourself to them when approaching and let them know when you’re leaving.

2. Don’t think you can’t refer to sight such as: “see”, “look”, “watch” or “read”. A blind student will use these words in their vocabulary just like those who are sighted. It’s OK to use phrases like, “Look over here”, etc.

3. It’s helpful to the student who is blind or visually impaired if you describe the surroundings, whether it is something interesting on a bulletin board, an activity that’s going on nearby, or the layout of an unfamiliar room.

4. When giving directions, make sure they are stated clearly and accurately. Pointing or using phrases such as “over there” will be of no help. Phrases like, “The computer is in the back of the room to the right of the file cabinet.”

5. It’s easy to want to rush to the aid of a visually impaired student. Try to resist this urge. While it may take them a little longer than other students to solve a problem or locate a dropped item, it’s an important step for them in learning independence and self-sufficiency.

6. You’ll want to encourage other students to not “overdo” being helpful. While it is encouraged that they help their fellow student, we don’t want our blind or visually impaired student to rely on someone else to take care of their every need. Just like we need to make sure we don’t overdo it, we need to make sure their peers don’t overdo it, either.

7. Remember that the blind and visually impaired student is simply a normal child with the same rules and expectations as other children in the classroom. They should be required to fulfill the obligations any child their age are expected, but should also be provided with the necessary modifications and support when required.

8. Treat your blind or visually impaired student as you would other students. They usually do the same things as you, but sometimes use different techniques.

9. Falls, bumping, and bruising happen to all students so don’t let it scare you. It would be far worse to overprotect the student, restrict their movements, and deprive them of freedoms, curiosity and a wide variety of experiences.

10. Most visually impaired students appreciate a structured routine, as do most children.

11. If visual aids are being used in the classroom, be sure to supply verbal descriptions and tactile experiences.

12. Whenever practical, do not move objects from their set place in the classroom without telling your blind or visually impaired student. They can’t visually locate items as we can, so they’ll need a heads-up when and where things have moved.

13. Make sure your classroom is free of excess clutter. Excess “stuff” can make it difficult for the blind and visually impaired student to locate necessary items and can cause some frustrations for them when searching for items.

1 4. Make sure the room is safe for the student to safely maneuver around independently. Make sure there are no obstructions the student can trip over or obstacles they can hit their head or body with.

Topics: Tutor Tips | 3 Comments »

3 Responses to “Educating Blind and Visually Impaired Student”

  1. Tip Diva | Carnival Of Tips - March 22, 2008 Says:

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  2. A Teacher's Life Blog Carnival - March 31, 2008 | Lesson Plans Says:

    […] Palat presents Considerations In Educating the Blind and Visually Impaired Student | posted at Colleen Palat, saying, “Learn aspects to consider when education the blind and […]

  3. RFID Reader Says:

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