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Elsie Rao
Teaching children who are braille readers is unique. With minor adjustments and some adaptations, classroom teachers can discover how to be successful. The first step is to realize what learning has been like for a student with no or very limited vision. Eighty percent of what a sighted baby learns comes through the sense of sight, so it makes sense that a child without vision will not learn incidentally. This makes early childhood intervention and instruction critical to learning and development. Even with early instruction, blind children will usually function below his/her sighted peers since there is so much to learn. Even so, there are some lessons in life that cannot be fully understood without sight. For instance, what does tall mean? How does one explain the difference between a tall man, a tall tree, and a tall building to someone who has never seen? Describe the white clouds in the blue sky. Tell how the town looks after the tornado hit. Describe the facial expression of the person who is horrified.
Teachers who work with blind children must help these students comprehend and implement basic skills and concepts.
There will also be instances when a blind student will use a word correctly in a sentence, but may not know the meaning of the word. Our language is filled with words which can be used in so many ways, and sometimes the meanings get confusing. Effective teachers will constantly ask questions or create situations that require the blind student to demonstrate the understanding of the word. Leaning starts with just one small concept. This concept is expanded and used to teach another, and then another.
The “Golden Rule” in teaching blind children is to never do anything for them that they can do for themselves.
Remember that this student is just like all the others, except for the visual impairment. It is a child you are teaching, not a blind person.
Schedule a time to meet the student so you can introduce yourself and get acquainted in a one to one setting. This is also an excellent time to let the student investigate your classroom.
During the first meeting, have the student explain how he/she writes, reads, takes notes, etc. Schedule a time when this information can be shared with the class.
Have the student explain his/her eye condition. This is an important skill that the student will need the rest of his/her life. Each time he/she tells the story, it becomes a little easier to explain
Some students have a little vision. Ask the student to tell you what he/she can see.
Tell the child when you are going to touch him/her. Otherwise, your touch may startle the child or be a threat.
A blind student does not see the expression on your face, the gestures you make, or know what you are wearing. This is vital information that the child must learn to pick up from other reactions that are going on in the classroom. It is very helpful to the blind person for someone to explain situations as they occur.
Tape record conversations or lessons so you can hear your voice. Your student will recognize and judge you by the sound of your voice. This student will form an opinion of you by listening to your voice.
You need to be aware of how you sound to others. Always introduce yourself when you meet and/or greet the student, and encourage other students and staff to do the same. —Source: tsbvi.edu