Before looking at the different aspects of the work being done at the Centre, it is useful to familiarise oneself with the specific educational needs of the blind and visually impaired.
While visual impairment does not affect what a child is able to learn, it does affect how a child learns – it changes the way children obtain information about the world around them and limits opportunities to learn through observation. This means that in addition to regular classroom studies, children who are blind or visually impaired need to learn specialized skills. These include:
- Reading and writing with braille, large print, optical devices, or training in the effective use of available vision.
- Developing safe and independent mobility using specific orientation and mobility techniques such as long canes or other mobility tools.
- Using computer equipment such as a screen reader which enlarges print.
- Developing and using the other senses. Especially developing and using sound localization – the ability to tell where a sound is coming from.
- Looking at objects with the hands and getting information in this way. This includes tactually exploring a room to make a mental map and find out where things are placed.
- Developing and using memory.
- Learning to ask for information such as, “Who just walked into the room?” This also includes learning to give a polite, “No thank you” when assistance is not needed.
- Developing everyday communication skills. Children with visual impairments may miss visual clues, such as a frown, raised eye-brows, or smiles to communicate with others.
- Independent living skills. This includes learning specialized techniques for personal grooming, food preparation, money management and other tasks.