Question Le-Zandra Oosthuizen Education
Visually impaired learners in the classroom
Is there still discrimination against people with visual disabilities and what are teachers' perceptions on having a visual impaired student in their class?
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Answer Internal Staff
The vast majority of educational establishments will have an internal Inclusion policy which aims to ensure that learners with disabilities of any sort are included in mainstream provision wherever this is viable. For visually impaired learners, a variety of possible adaptions may be needed depending on the extent to which they are impaired and on the task at hand. It may be that some visually impaired learners are unable to remain within mainstream provision for the entirety of the school day, but can be involved in suitable tasks alongside their classmates. There are many strategies and techniques which can be trialed with individual learners to see what works for them; finding a tailored programme can help them to interact with their learning to the maximum. Every school or college will have a specific policy regarding Inclusion which is aimed to ensure that discrimination towards those with any kind of SEN or disability is minimised, if not eradicated entirely. It is not simply a matter of policy, however, to ensure that nobody with a disability is disadvantaged because of this: disability is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act (2010), which renders it illegal to discriminate against someone with a disability on this basis. The Act also states that reasonable adjustments must be made to enable disabled people to perform the same duties and activities as non-disabled people where this is possible. In terms of teacher perception of SEN learners in general, and visually impaired learners specifically, there is no way to measure this entirely without conducting a study. However, teachers are trained to ensure that their practice is inclusive, and to understand that disabled and SEN learners are a valuable addition to any classroom.
ReferencesEquality Act 2010 (c.1). London: HMSO.