All About Inclusive Education and How it Helps Children with Impairment

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By Education Today

Posted on April 6, 2022


5 min read

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All About Inclusive Education and How it Helps Children with Impairment

Blindness creates a cycle of illiteracy, poverty and social exclusion for
blind children, making them one of the most vulnerable groups in the

world. A small number of them receive any kind of education.

When children with disabilities participate in mainstream education on an
equal basis with other children, they learn from an early age that they are
equal and valued members of society. They remain in a normal social
environment, are no longer isolated and participate more actively in
general community activities throughout their lives.

Amid a pandemic that engulfed almost the entire world and a lockdown, it
became extremely difficult to manage the learning needs of blind and
visually impaired children. COVID-19 and the mandated social distancing
disrupted the traditional ways of teaching for blind and the sighted
equally. The challenges however were manifold when it came to reaching
blind children in remote regions of the country for continuing inclusive
education—a key programme of Sightsavers.

Sightsavers aims to promote a positive and enabling environment in
schools, families as well as communities to support the holistic education
of children with visual impairment (CWVIs) in an inclusive environment.
Enablement is facilitated by availability of assistive devices and accessible
educational material, provision of compensatory skills training,
infrastructure accessibility and building education management and
leadership among others.

Story of Kiran

Kiran who hails from Dumka, Jharkhand, was enrolled in a local school but
she never attended owing to her condition of visual impairment. No one
at school was bothered about her absence at school. Many teachers
confessed that they were never given any kind of training to teach
children with visual impairment.

The intervention of Sightsavers along with its partner Chetna Vikas
brought a 360-degree change in the life of Kiran. Counselling was
provided to Kiran’s parents and her teachers were also imparted skill
development training programme where they would themselves use
Braille slate, Abacus, Taylor Frame and many more technology-based
devices used in the process of teaching the blind. This would ensure
better support to Kiran when she is learning using the assistive devices.
You would be surprised to know that Kiran, who before this intervention
was confined to her house and no one had imagined that she will even
step out of the doors of her house, not only attended regular classes at a
regular school, but today is the Cultural Minister of Bal Sansad
Committee of her school. Kiran even mastered accessing and using her
TAB provided by Sightsavers, in learning.

Story of Rahul

Nine-year-old Rahul from a village in Rajasthans Jhalawar district
suffered from severe low vision. Rahul attended a government school in
his village.

The first time when Rahuls parents learned about his severe low vision
was when Rahul was three, he even faced difficulties while walking and
would often bang in walls.

With Rahuls condition worsening every day, his school teacher convinced
Rahuls parents to visit a doctor which they finally did. The doctor
prescribed him with eye drops. Gradually, Rahuls eyesight started
weakening further and he developed severe low visions. This had put the
entire family in a lot of distress.

Rahul was identified by the Sightsavers team under the Inclusive
Education Programme which is supported by HCL in Jhalawar. He was
identified through the social mapping process and after the identification
his training started.

With regular consulting sessions, Rahul’s confidence started building up
and he was provided a Braille kit initially as part of the Plus curriculum
training. After looking at his progress in Plus curriculum training, Rahul
was provided an android smart phone. He started receiving training
regularly and became better with using technology for his studies.
Today, Rahul can study on his own and he has improved significantly in his
studies. He has made new friends in school and is often found playing with
them or doing something or the other with the devices provided to him.
He aspires to become a teacher.

The main aim of inclusive education is to include children with visual
impairment in mainstream education as education is crucial to lifting
people out of poverty. It helps in inclusion of children with disabilities who
are normally excluded socially.

Working with teachers

The most important aspect for inclusive education to succeed is that
teachers are firstly sensitised to the needs of a visually impaired child and
is given adequate training.
Only by proper training can a teacher understand the special needs of
children and become a specialist in teaching children with impairment,
bringing a real meaning to the word ‘inclusive education’. Once a teacher
is trained and sensitized, they will also ensure that more of such students
are enrolled in regular schools. These specialist teachers go to local school
and teach skills like Braille to students with visual impairment and
provide help to children in classroom to let them learn these skills better
and thus increasing the involvement of students in the class.

Tools and technology

Many would be surprised to know that those who are blind can function
as effectively as those who can see. There are multiple examples to prove
this point and that too from various professions and vocations. To make
this possible, Sightsavers provides support to the visually impaired with
right technology, education materials in Braille, tablets and other tools
such as low vision devices that given them greater independence in
performing tasks, they previously found difficult to accomplish.

Working During Pandemic

There are multiple challenges especially teaching a visually impaired child
via online, but the volunteers in this field are taking extra steps to help
them. Daily volunteers contact the parents and the children with visual
impairment to teach them skills and whenever they have an issue, they
get back to the volunteer too.

With challenges like poor cell phone connectivity, children not getting
access to mobiles as most parents are poor or working in fields, the work
has continued even during lockdown and pandemic. While a person to
person teaching is better in such cases, but due to lockdown even via
technology the work is being carried out and children who need help are
not being left behind.

There always are some gaps to fill, but without losing sight we have to
walk the path of where there’s a will there’s a way. And as Benjamin
Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”


    RN Mohanty, CEO Sightsavers India.