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A visual impaired individual is one who looses the function of vision, which occurs when a part of the eye or the brain that processes images becomes diseased or damaged. Visual impairment is a situation where a person has sight problem that cannot be rectified by the use of glasses or contact lenses. The human eye has an iris that regulates the amount of light passing through the pupil. It also has a cornea that focuses light, and a retina that changes the light signals into nerve signals that form an image when sent to the brain. When the retina or the optic nerve that sends the light signals to the brain is affected, it can make vision impossible. Some babies can be visually impaired at birth, a condition known as congenital blindness.
Some of the symptoms that can indicate visual impairment in children may include:
- Eyes moving differently when following an object or a face
- Pupils being unequal in size or appearing white instead of black
- Unusual degree of clumsiness like bumping frequently into things
- Loss of attention and concentration
- Blurring when and/or after reading
- Frequent squinting, blinking, eye-rubbing, or face crunching, especially when there is no enough light
- Poor handwriting and avoidance of activities that require good vision.
Children who suffer from visual impairment may face many challenges in class because most of the learning activities that take place, especially during early childhood development, are in the form of images. Instead of sight, the visually impaired are forced to learn everything through their hands, nose, and ears-sensory learning.
The challenges include:
Delayed social use of language- communication and developing relationships
Delay in the child area of development
Reaching key developmental milestones- it becomes a problem to for instance understand abstract ideas or acquire communication, social mobility, and life skills.
The children may also feel inferior to the normal kids thus lowering their self-esteem and delaying development.
Putting together information and processing it from previous hearing, and other senses.
It is difficult to catch up with other students after missing many classes in order to go for checkups.
Legislations of the visually impaired
Educating visual impaired students in the United Arab Emirates is relatively new and aims at integrating people with disabilities into the mainstream system. It was not until recently that the UAE started focusing on the needs of visually impaired students.
On June 1994, representatives held a world conference in Salamanca from 92 governments and 25international organizations. They agreed that normal schools should accommodate all students regardless of the conditions. The main principle was education for all thus recognizing the necessity and urgency of providing education to all without discrimination. The conference called out for governments to allocate a budget for the purposes of improving educational services. They went even further to call out on the World Bank, UNESCO, UNDP, UNICEF support the development of special need schools as an important part of educational programme.
How to include the visually impaired in a classroom
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the least restrictive environment is the requirement of educating children with disabilities. Teachers dealing with visually impaired students must be knowledgeable visual impairments and the effect it has on students.
The following are some of the factors that could improve the performance:
Good lighting leads to effective use of vision, improved concentration, less eye fatigue, greater neatness, accuracy, and achievement. Avoiding/minimizing glare from shiny surfaces such as floors and glossy paper, or covering surfaces with dark clothing aids one to obtain better lighting. Tutors should allow students to change their sitting positions to obtain the suitable light.
The teacher can provide a bigger working space to the students and familiarize the students to the layout of the classroom by taking them around the class when the rest of the students are not present.
Each student has different needs making it necessary for the teacher to identify the needs of every student. A voice that is audible to every student should verbalize the writings on the board. Enough rest periods for students and giving them extra time for the completion of the assignment could improve the student’s performance. Rather than abstract objects, tutors should use concrete ones and allow students to handle the demonstrated materials. The assignment should be given in advance
Professionals who deal with the visually impaired
Ophthalmologist is a medically trained doctor who treats, examines, and diagnoses injuries and diseases around the eye.
Optometrists examine the eye, advices on visual problem, and prescribes eyeglasses or contact lenses
Orthoptists are able to diagnose and treat vision defects and eye movement abnormalities.
Visually impaired technology
Technology is invaluable for people with visual disabilities both in terms of improving their learning, visual stimulation and communication.
There is a range of special electronic equipment specifically designed for the visually impaired such as portable braille, braille input and braille output devices. Computer aid in speech synthesis by reading texts and screening the contents. Some students find it easier to read from computers than from papers where one can select the text size and colour. Voice recorders enable easy and quick revision by the visually impaired
This theory helps to emphasize and explain in details the role of all-human’s sensory system.
This theory is significant to the visually impaired since they rely on hearing, touching, body position, smelling, tasting and movement sensations directed by visions for everyday activities. Touch and movement are integral to the development of gross and fine skills of motor, providing encouragement to young children to reach out and to explore the world around them
The effects of infant massage on at-risk infant or infants with blindness or visual impairment may be profound.. Infant massage provides a platform where the child and the caregiver interact and creates a bond.
Information about the Student: Child x has no function of vision, which occurs when a part of the eye or the brain that processes images becomes diseased or damaged. The child has sight loss that cannot be rectified by the use of glasses or contact lenses
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