Teaching Strategies for Students with Visual Impairments

1)According to Berthold Lowenfeld “Education must aim at giving the blind child a knowledge of the realities around him, the confidence to cope with these realities, and the feeling that he is recognized and accepted as an individual in his own right.” 

2) Technology in the form of computers and low-vision optical and video aids enable many partially sighted, low vision and blind children to participate in regular class activities.

3)Students with visual impairments may need additional help with special equipment and modifications in the regular curriculum to emphasize listening skills, communication, orientation and mobility, vocation/career options, and daily living skills. 

4)It is important to remember that education goals for students with visual impairments are essentially the same as those for all students. The goals are: effective communication, social competence, employability, and personal independence. 

5)The unique educational needs of all students  is critical that a team approach be used in identifying and meeting these needs and that the team must include staff who have specific expertise in educating students with visual impairments.

6) Students with visual impairments need an educational system that meets the individual needs of all students, fosters independence, and is measured by the success of each individual in the school and community. 

7)The right of every student with a visual impairment to an appropriate placement in the least restrictive environment, is nothing more or less than is mandated by federal law. 

8)Students with visual impairments have the right to an appropriate education that is guided by knowledgeable specialists who work collaboratively with parents, the student and other education team members. 

Different models and methods for Teaching Strategies for Students with Visual Impairments

i) Use of Remaining Sight: The visually impaired children will have to rely on sensory modalities other than vision to acquire information. But they are to be encouraged to use their remaining sight or residual vision as much as possible. 

ii) Closed Circuit Television: A closed circuit television reader has been developed to aid partially sighted students in Western countries. A camera with a zoom lens photographs parts of a page of print and projects a magnified image on the television screen. The student moves the book while reading so that the appropriate portion of the page is magnified. 

iii) Magnifying Glasses and Hand Magnifiers: The partially sighted and low vision children should be encouraged to read the print through magnifying glasses or hand magnifiers which present enlarged images on the print.

iv) Large Print Material:  Such print reduces reading speed. However large print may be useful in case of reference books, dictionaries, mathematics and maps.

v) Braille: Visually impaired children who cannot read regular print even with magnifying or large print materials should be trained to use Braille. Braille is a basic system of reading and writing ,which consists of a six-dot cell that provides for sixty three different characters. 26 combinations of dots are used for 26 letters of the alphabet. The remaining 37 combinations represent punctuation signs and contractions that allow for shortening or abbreviating words. In some ways Braille is a system of shorthand since each word is not spelled out letter for letter.

vi) Talking Calculator: Both the partially sighted and the blind may profit from a talking calculator. In the talking calculator, numerical entries are read aloud to the student through an earplug. Blind children may profit more from the talking calculator in learning mathematics.

vii) Tape Recording: The use of tape recording is gaining in popularity as a method of teaching language, history, geography, science etc. The blind can cover the same material much more quickly.

viii) General curriculum with modified experience: Many experts agree that blind children should be educated in the same general way, following the same general principles and along with sighted children in the regular schools or in integrated settings. 

ix) The plus curriculum: The plus curriculum icontains skills and competencies which, if developed early, result in the learning of the general curriculum meant for sighted children.

x) Co-curricular activities: Visually impaired children should be given the opportunity for participation in co-curricular activities in the school like singing, playing instruments, debating, composing poems (The visually impaired children may take part in all these activities with sighted children).