Meeting the needs of blind students

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Nascent, Sep 30, 2008.

  1. Nascent

    Nascent Rookie

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    Sep 30, 2008

    In my current practicum at a large high school there's one student who's totally blind. I'd never actually been around a blind student before, and observing how he operates in the classroom (he has an aide and short daily visits to the resource room, but is otherwise completely included in regular classes) got me thinking about how I, as a teacher-to-be, would adapt myself and my lessons to effectively teach a blind student.

    Which, to be honest, isn't all that far away of a prospect; I'm required to teach a faculty-observed lesson to the class before the semester ends.

    I'm an English Education major with a flare for creative writing, and the idea of going through even a *short* period of my life being unable to see the world around me terrifies me. At the same time, however, I see this student day in and day out interacting with the teacher and his fellow students, as well as engaging and grappling intently with the material,... and I find myself fascinated and awed.

    Questions and contemplations keep running through my head.

    - When so much of English makes extensive use of visual descriptions, visually-based metaphors, and other sight-based inferences, how do I as a teacher bridge the rift between a student who has no experiential definition for 'light' and all the "sighted terminology" that weaves itself through virtually all texts?

    - Is there a Braille equivalent for bold and italics?

    - How does a teacher prepare, or what resources can they provide, when giving a research assignment to a visually impaired student?

    - Do the blind have a means of accessing and interacting with the Internet (other than a sighted assistant)?

    - What are the big dos and don'ts when teaching a visually impaired student in a mainline classroom?


    HUGE thanks to anyone who contributes to this thread! :help:



    ~Nascent~
     
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  3. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Sep 30, 2008

    If I was faced with this situation, the first thing I would do is sit down and have a long talk with his aide. She would be the one most able to give you answers to all those questions.
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 30, 2008

    I don't have a single one of the answers to those wonderful questions.

    But years ago I coached debate. One of our debators, was legally deaf-- totally deaf in one ear, and partially in the other.

    On the day of the eliminations for the state finals she developed-- you guessed it-- an ear infection in her "good" ear. She was a debator who couldn't hear.

    We asked for, and got, a single accomodation: that anyone speaking do so in Noelle's line of vision, so she could lip read.

    She qualified for States.

    I guess my point is that kids who have grown up with handicaps don't always see themselves as handicapped. They see themselves as kids with the same hopes and aspirations as other kids. They find ways to work around the obstacles in their way.

    I wouldn't talk to the aide-- you teach high school, right??-- I would talk to the student. Find out which accomodations he or she wanted.

    Remember, his blindness is new to you, not to him. He has spent his whole life dealing with the roadblocks this disability has put in his way.

    OK-- now, folks, how about some answers to those questions??
     
  5. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    Sep 30, 2008

    I agree with Alice...talk to the high school student. He should be able to help you. I think he would feel better about you talking to him rather than just the aide.

    I know when I did my pre internship we had a student in 1st that was going blind. Blind in one eye & could see very little with other, so mine is a little different. He didn't have an aide yet because he could see if we wrote big & did some other accommodations for him. Even at his young age we would ask him if he needed this or that & he would let us know!!!

    Let your student help you. I think of the aide as his helper not the one that makes the decisions.

    GOOD LUCK!!!
     
  6. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Sep 30, 2008

    As for access to the internet. I had a friend that was blind and her computer would read stuff off the internet for her, her emails, websites, message boards. There are programs out there for that.

    As for italics.
    http://www.brl.org/ebae/rule02.html It is hard to understand the symbols and such, but if you scroll down to #10, it discusses italics. It also mentions something about boldface, too.
    http://www.brl.org/codes/session02/boldface.html There is more info about bold and italics, too.

    Tips on teaching the blind.
    http://www.as.wvu.edu/~scidis/text/vision_impair.html

    Online resources.
    http://www.uni.edu/walsh/blindresources.html

    Here is something about teaching English to the blind.
    http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/talk/questions/teaching-blind-students

    I would think one DON'T would be... don't ask the aide questions about the student if he is right there in front of you. :) DO treat him as you would any other student.

    Maybe that will help you out some. :)
     
  7. ValinFW

    ValinFW Comrade

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    Sep 30, 2008

    I have a blind student this year. His aide came to my room the week before school started to talk with me about him and what accomodations he would need. She also delivered the braille textbooks that I would need for him. I don't have answers for all of your questions, since this is my first experience with the situation, but here goes:

    - When so much of English makes extensive use of visual descriptions, visually-based metaphors, and other sight-based inferences, how do I as a teacher bridge the rift between a student who has no experiential definition for 'light' and all the "sighted terminology" that weaves itself through virtually all texts? Not sure--my guy can see shadows, so he understands the concept of light.

    - Is there a Braille equivalent for bold and italics? Again, not sure (sorry!), since he has braille versions of all of his textbooks.

    - How does a teacher prepare, or what resources can they provide, when giving a research assignment to a visually impaired student? My student can do anything the rest of the class is assigned. He has the coolest machine that he carries with him. It looks like a computer keyboard. I download documents (notes, tests, project assignments, etc.) to his machine. It voices and/or translates it to braille. (There's an area on the machine, below where the space bar would be on a keyboard that he reads in braille.) He completes the assignment and gives me back the card. I plug that into my USB port, upload the document, and print it out. It really is amazing, IMO!

    - Do the blind have a means of accessing and interacting with the Internet (other than a sighted assistant)? My student has a laptop with voicing technology, so he can go anywhere online that he wants to go.

    - What are the big dos and don'ts when teaching a visually impaired student in a mainline classroom? From my vast six weeks of experience here :whistle:, I would have to say, don't treat them any differently than you would any other student. In the ARD we had a couple of weeks ago, Mom was adamant about that. She wants him to be prepared to live as independently as possible. That is not an impossibility, either! He's very bright and already pretty independent. He's got the layout of the school memorized, so he doesn't use his cane here. He'll have to next year...our high school is enormous compared to this building. He's outgoing and has lots friends, too, who will help him when he needs it.

    Good luck to you with your education. I think you're lucky to have exposure to a situation like this before it lands in your classroom full-time in a few years! I'm happy to try and answer any additional questions you may have, but I'm sure there are others here who have more experience with blind students than I do!
     
  8. inhisgrip20

    inhisgrip20 Comrade

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    Sep 30, 2008

    Well, Valin already gave you some great feedback, but I'd like to second that yes, blind students can definitely access the internet. My sister-in-law is blind. She does the majority of her shopping online, checks email, even has a FaceBook account. lol She has a voice output program that reads the screen. She works as a church secretary and types the weekly bulletin, creates PowerPoints, and does various other things on the computer. It's amazing really what technology can do.

    I'm not sure about the bold and italics. I'll ask her.
     
  9. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I totally missed the part about it being in a high school. In that case, yes, talk to the student himself. I would still talk to the aide because I'm sure there's assistive technology that I would need to learn how to use, but I totally agree with the comment that it shouldn't be done in front of the student, regardless of age.
     
  10. Nascent

    Nascent Rookie

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    Oct 1, 2008

    :woot: WOW! Thanks for all your help everyone! Especially you, SpecialPreskoo! Those links could end up being an invaluable resource to me! You have my sincerest gratitude!

    Hmm... apparently I have quite a bit to learn and think about here... :reading:
     

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