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by Learning Hub - Tuesday, 4 July 2017, 9:21 AM
Anyone in the world

This week's sign is "Bed."

On-body signing is a technique used to communicate with people with multiple disabilities and visual impairment. The Royal Blind School in Edinburgh developed a form of on-body signing called Canaan Barrie.

A different sign will be posted on our blog each week. Come back next week to see a new sign.

 
Anyone in the world

By Lauren Lockhart, Languages Teacher, Royal Blind School.

Read part 5 of the blog.

A German Exchange

In June last year, we took four blind and visually impaired students to Marburg, Germany. Having only had experience of taking bus-loads of mainstream pupils abroad, with constant head-counts and pavement management, this was to be a totally different experience. Four pupils were certainly much easier to control but there were so many aspects of the trip that I had just taken for granted. For example, showering, making breakfast, making dinner, medication, I could go on. This was not a school trip as I knew it. And so much the better.

Our pupils were fantastic. They were polite, friendly, interested in their environment, open to new experiences and genuinely grateful for the opportunity they had been given. They easily made friends with the pupils there, many of whom were independent, confident individuals who had learned to manage their visual impairment either themselves or relying on peers to help them. They were interested in the school, which was very different from theirs, and the daily life of the pupils. They attended lessons in the morning in German so, not only were they in an unfamiliar environment with no visual reassurance but they were also listening to a language they didn't understand. Sounds hard doesn't it?! But they got so much out of it. Here are some of their comments:

"This has been great - it's been the best experience I've ever had. I've made 6 new friends, it's taught me a lot about Germany history, about East and West Germany. We've got lots of things in common and the language isn't a barrier. I felt more engaged with the culture by speaking the language. When I ordered something, they actually brought it! The classes are a challenge in German but I could understand the content. I've tried new things and I liked them."

I don't think I could have said it better. This was never meant to be a language trip, but a cultural exchange, and I think it did exactly that. We have now forged links with the Carl-Strehl-Schule and blind schools all over the world can benefit immensely from this kind of networking.

[ Modified: Tuesday, 27 June 2017, 2:52 PM ]
 
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by Learning Hub - Monday, 26 June 2017, 10:41 AM
Anyone in the world

This week's sign is "Toilet."

On-body signing is a technique used to communicate with people with multiple disabilities and visual impairment. The Royal Blind School in Edinburgh developed a form of on-body signing called Canaan Barrie.

A different sign will be posted on our blog each week. Come back next week to see a new sign

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[ Modified: Monday, 26 June 2017, 10:43 AM ]
 
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by Learning Hub - Monday, 19 June 2017, 11:05 AM
Anyone in the world

This week's sign is "Brush Hair."

On-body signing is a technique used to communicate with people with multiple disabilities and visual impairment. The Royal Blind School in Edinburgh developed a form of on-body signing called Canaan Barrie.

A different sign will be posted on our blog each week. Come back next week to see a new sign.

[ Modified: Monday, 19 June 2017, 11:05 AM ]
 
Anyone in the world

This week's sign is "Dress / Get Dressed."

On-body signing is a technique used to communicate with people with multiple disabilities and visual impairment. The Royal Blind School in Edinburgh developed a form of on-body signing called Canaan Barrie.

A different sign will be posted on our blog each week. Come back next week to see a new sign.


[ Modified: Monday, 12 June 2017, 10:09 AM ]
 
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by Learning Hub - Monday, 5 June 2017, 9:53 AM
Anyone in the world

This week's sign is "Shower."

On-body signing is a technique used to communicate with people with multiple disabilities and visual impairment. The Royal Blind School in Edinburgh developed a form of on-body signing called Canaan Barrie.

A different sign will be posted on our blog each week. Come back next week to see a new sign.


[ Modified: Monday, 5 June 2017, 9:54 AM ]
 
Anyone in the world

By Lauren Lockhart, Languages Teacher, Royal Blind School.

Read part 4 of the blog.

The importance of sight

Everything we do requires sight, or so it seems. Reading bus timetables, choosing which cereal we get, surfing the internet, reading a book, I could go on. We never stop to think what it would be like to be without vision, not to be able to see where you're going or somebody's expression. I work with some inspiring individuals who, one way or another, have managed to find a way to do all these things with a little help from technology. You can surf the internet on a Braille Note, listen to an audio book, read Braille on cereal packets, use echo location to find where you are. For each of the many things that we say require vision, there is a solution for those without. Thankful for technology and Louis Braille.

Different types of learner

We have all heard of different types of learner: visual, auditory, kinesthetic. In a blind school, we can rule out 'Visual', although I will come back to that. In my school, there are many different types of learner, of which I was not at all aware before I started working in VI education.

Vision

There are different types of vision impairment. Some pupils cannot see at all, some only see with their peripheral vision, some in their central, some only see dark and light, some had vision, some have been blind from birth. This has enormous implications for teaching. A child who had some vision has more visual memory than a child who has been blind from birth, or different visual memory. For example, the first child might have seen a scorpion on TV or on the internet so has a visual memory of what it looks like. The second child will probably never have felt a scorpion (unlikely) and so has no frame of visual reference unless someone has described it to them. Even then, it depends on the person's description as to whether the child can visualise a scorpion in the same way, do they have anything to compare it to? So, when I am teaching a foreign language, I have to be aware that the pupils' experiences of the words they are learning will vary greatly.

Braille skills

Each pupil is at a different stage with their Braille. It should not be assumed that every blind or visually impaired child knows Braille. It is a skill acquired like anything else, much like learning a foreign language. It requires practice, a good memory and discipline. This, again, has enormous implications for teaching. In some cases, it cannot be relied upon as a medium for the lesson, in which case, the learner has to become auditory. So, sometimes, we don't have the option to be the learner we would like to be.

Impact of the visual impairment

Last but not at all the least. Each pupil responds differently to their visual impairment. It can have enormous impact on a child's self-esteem. Some pupils accept their impairment and work with it. Some work against it and require a great deal of sensitivity and skill on the part of the teacher. I can’t begin to imagine what it feels like to be blind.

“The mind’s eye”

In short, pupils vary greatly in mainstream education. In the VI world, they vary even more. Every child should be treated individually and, thankfully, there are educational settings which give them the specialist attention they need. I said I would come back to the idea of a 'visual learner'. I have come to realise, through my experience so far in the world of VI, that a blind person can be a visual learner. The same area of the brain, which is used by sighted people to see, lights up when a blind person imagines something in their mind's eye. There is as much possibility of a blind person 'seeing' an object as a sighted person seeing it. This understanding involves a combination of description and ‘felt’ information. I work a lot with the spelling of French words. Spelling is very visual and requires the learner to visualise the letters to send the signal to the hand to write. As a blind person reads the word in Braille, they use their fingers to visualise the letters. It allows them to translate reading to writing. If you describe something to anyone, they create the image in their head. For example, if I described a monster with three eyes, four noses, six mouths, we would all have some visual reference in our mind's eye, one probably quite different from the next but an image all the same. There is no underestimating of the mind's eye and a teacher in VI should learn wholeheartedly to harness that but also be aware of its limitations for a blind pupil.

[ Modified: Tuesday, 20 June 2017, 5:10 PM ]
 
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by Learning Hub - Tuesday, 30 May 2017, 9:31 AM
Anyone in the world

This week's sign is "Bath."

On-body signing is a technique used to communicate with people with multiple disabilities and visual impairment. The Royal Blind School in Edinburgh developed a form of on-body signing called Canaan Barrie.

A different sign will be posted on our blog each week. Come back next week to see a new sign.

[ Modified: Tuesday, 30 May 2017, 9:32 AM ]
 
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by Learning Hub - Monday, 22 May 2017, 10:53 AM
Anyone in the world

This week's sign is "Wash."

On-body signing is a technique used to communicate with people with multiple disabilities and visual impairment. The Royal Blind School in Edinburgh developed a form of on-body signing called Canaan Barrie.

A different sign will be posted on our blog each week. Come back next week to see a new sign.


[ Modified: Monday, 22 May 2017, 10:55 AM ]
 
Anyone in the world

Earlier this month the Royal Blind Learning Hub ran an Introduction to Habilitation and Mobility Skills course with expert habilitation staff from the Royal Blind School.

This event was free to any educators including teachers, support staff, classroom assistants and informal educators, who wanted to find out more about teaching visually impaired pupils.

Participants were encouraged to evaluate how they currently teach and assist a child or young person with a visual impairment safe travel skills.

They will have left the event with a deeper understanding of what it means to have a visual impairment and how to support their visually impaired young people.

You can see some photos from the course below:

Feedback included:

“ I feel basic training has been covered to an extremely high level, everything was so relevant”

“ I will always be mindful with explanations and vocabulary when working with pupils with visual impairment “

“The best thing about the day was being able to take away practical skills and a much better understanding of how to be a guide”

We will be running a full programme of seminars and training days in 2017/18 and details will be announced on our seminars page.

A blindfolded participant feels the surface of a climbing wall while her smiling colleague watches

Habilitation specialist guides a blindfolded participant to strike a large wind chime with a stick

A blindfolded participant smells flowers in the sensory garden

Smiling participant wearing a blindfold standing by the climbing wall

[ Modified: Tuesday, 22 May 2018, 12:52 PM ]