Managing children with disabilities pose challenges to both families and professionals at homes and in schools and right from the global embrace of computers, communication devices to environmental controls; the use of technology present many children with disabilities the necessary tools to be more successful in school, at work, and at achieving independence in daily living. Certainly, opportunities now abound nowadays to some children with disabilities with the support of new and emerging technology, raising new hopes, which had in the past unavailable
Who are the Visually Impaired?
The visually impaired are those with visual problems be it partial, low vision, or total blindness, as such need higher education to be liberated from the shackles of pity and sympathy.Therefore, what they need most in this sense is integration into higher education and provided with materials that will enable them cope with academic activities.
Few examples of tools to teach visually impaired students’ computer application, optical aids, and Braille writing materials, issues of mobility, funding, library resources, personnel availability and physical infrastructural facilities.
Variable Speech Control (VSC): This tool is in form of tape recorder, which enable the child to play the texts recorded in audio tape very fast than the originally recorded, with all the sounds of the words still intact. This is very useful for children who better understand when texts are presented at a slow rate.
Talking Calculators: This tool is used to speak number, symbols and other operation keys, with the use of speech synthesizer, whenever a child presses the keys. When completed, the child could read back the answers from the completed calculations. By listening to it, the child could find the inputted errors, when wrong keys are pressed. It could also help the child to double check for errors, when copying numbers or symbols.
Challenges of Educating Visually Impaired
Attitude of the Public: negative attitudes have continued to be expressed towards the visually impaired students by the teachers and normal students. When attitude is negative, they will continue to suffer in the hands of their pairs because the attitude is that of rejection
Inadequate Teaching Tools: the equipment used in teaching the visually impaired are very important because the items almost replace their eye sight. This makes these essential to their education. These educational items are not easy to come by and the available ones are grossly inadequate to meet their educational requirement.
Poor Government Funding: with the impact these children could also have in the society, it is sad that the government is blind to this fact and has shown a non-encouraging attitude in terms of funding of their tools.
The educational institutions should be made available with knowledge resources such as qualified instructors, a modern and adequate information technology, infrastructure, maintenance and refurbishment of physical facilities, the provision of adequate library resources, the provision of special educational facilities and devices such as optical aids, brailers, typewriters etc; and the availability of mobility equipment such as guides dogs, path sounders, etc.
Teachers and all other personnel should be taught on how to carry out classroom based on the available and well equipped classroom.
Teachers should teach needed technology skills before they are required. Thus, the children can then pay attention on regular classroom instruction rather than simultaneously learning the curriculum and the new assistive technology skills.
It is very important that technology training for teachers make these children better users of their tools and maximises the impact of efforts and finances expended.
Teachers should be up to date in the assistive tools skills acquisition. This training should include making teachers spend time researching and reading the recommended books and be current in the global use of assistive technologies.
It is also important that teachers should have access to technical supports that might help in case of any system’s crash or breakdown.
It has therefore become imperative to emphasise that using technology promotes sense of belonging and interactive participation in the classrooms for children with learning disabilities in general.
Article by: Busayo Tomoh