According to the World Health Organisation there are 285 million visually impaired or blind people in the world and 90% of those live in developing countries. So what can we as teachers do to cater for the particular needs of these learners?A recent article in the Guardian focuses on Chen Guangcheng, the Chinese civil rights campaigner who is visually impaired. According to 40-year-old Chen Guangcheng, learning English is of utmost importance to his future work and will help him to make himself understood as a Chinese activist abroad. The article contains interviews with one of his teachers as well as advice from others who have direct experience of teaching languages to visually impaired learners.
Because so many modern language teaching methods depend on visual support, without specific special needs training in this area it can be difficult for teachers to know how to apply and adapt existing teaching methods to the requirements of a visually impaired learner. The ideas and experiences described in the article provide useful tips to help teachers who have blind or visually impaired learners in their classes. The article underlines the importance of preparation, needs assessment and use of technology as key to success.
Click on the link to read the Guardian article: Blindness no barrier in English language classroom when needs are shared.
This TeachingEnglish article provides further advice from a teacher in Malaysia: Teaching English to blind students
This article gives an extensive account of an Italian teacher's experience in a school for the visually impaired: Teaching English to Blind and Visually Impaired Pupils