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Educating Blind/ visually impaired students in the general education classroom: tips for teachers

Hi! My name is Kim Cunningham and I am the
president of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, and I am also the
parent of a blind daughter. Mrs. Cunningham: Hi Ms. Joiner.
Ms. Joiner: Hi Mrs. Cunningham. It’s great to see you again!
Mrs. Cunningham: Very nice to see you also. Ms. Joiner: Thank you for taking the time
to meet with me today. Mrs. Cunningham: No problem.
Ms. Joiner: As we discussed earlier I have a bind student in my classroom and I was wondering
if you could provide me with some tips on how I can best educate them.
Mrs. Cunningham: Sure, no problem. What can I help you with?
Ms. Joiner: How can I facilitate them making friends with their other classmates?
Mrs. Cunningham: Well, since blind children can’t see it is important that everybody says
their name when they talk to a blind student. So I could say: “Hi Sally, this is Mrs. Cunningham.”
Encourage all the classmates to let them (the blind student) know. It will only take a few
times before the blind child recognizes the voice and you will no longer need to state
your name. I would encourage other teachers and the personnel within the school so when
they say good morning to your student that they will also know who it is.
Ms. Joiner: Okay, that makes sense. That’s something that I can definitely bring up in
our next faculty meeting. Mrs. Cunningham: Thank you.
Ms. Joiner: What about Braille? Mrs. Cunningham: Braille is provided by the
Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired who is contracted with your district to teach
your student this alternate form of reading. A braille enriched classroom is critical for
early learners, especially in the younger grades. It is important that you fill the
room with Braille labels wherever there is print (on the calendar, on the names in their
cubbies, on the centers). Make sure that you have Braille books provided. The Teacher of
the Visually Impaired can also provide these Braille books to you with notice.
Ms. Joiner: Ok. I will definitely be in contact with her to see how we can get that process
started. What about technology? How will they complete their work?
Mrs. Cunningham: Many different students use different pieces of technology. Some of the
children with low vision might use what is called a Closed Circuit TV which enlarges
the print. Other students will be using Braille. The slate and stylus is the blind person’s
pen and paper. This is a very quick tool to take notes, phone numbers, grocery lists;
whatever the student may want. They will also do a lot of their work in the early years
on the Perkins Brailler which is similar to a manual typewriter. The older students will
be provided with what is called a Braille notetaker which is a laptop without the screen
and provides Braille for whatever it is that they may need to read.
Ms. Joiner: Ok. That is very interesting! I am excited to work with my student this
year. What about learning the environment of the school?
Mrs. Cunningham: Oh, that’s another good point. It’s very important that our students learn
the mapping of the school. Our students have mental maps that they use to get around. An
Orientation and Mobility Specialist is another person who is contracted out through the
school district who works with mobility using the long white cane. You’ll see them (the
cane) in many shapes and colors but they are all the eyes of the student. It is really
important that you encourage the blind student to move about in classroom and to locate everything
that they may need. It is also important to include them in on fire drills, to make sure
they know where the nurses office is, how to get to the cafeteria, and even to travel
through the cafeteria carrying their tray along with their cane back to their table.
So there’s a lot of help that the Orientation and Mobility Instructor can give to you about
creating independence for your blind student. Ms. Joiner: Ok, well thank you very much for
taking the time to meet with me and I will be in contact with you if I have any further
questions. Mrs. Cunningham: Thank you. Very nice to see
you also. Ms. Joiner: Nice to see you too.

Reynold King

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