Facilitating Visually Impaired learners

According to the 2011 study from Stats SA, the national disability prevalence rate is 7,5% in South Africa of which 11% of persons aged five years and older are visually impaired.

Visual impairment is a very serious condition and can affect blind and partially sighted learners adversely. Where necessary, with focused one-on-one education and improved support services, learners will mature to become independent self-sufficient adults who can contribute to the economy of our country.

We chatted to one of the Durban North Business Practice facilitators, Cleo Nzimande who facilitates physically disabled learners, amongst them visually impaired learners. We asked her about the challenges that she faces on a daily basis and how she has overcome them.

“Learners can’t see the white boards, they just see a bright white light. To assist the learner I ensure that I use dark colours so the writing is more visible and I position them right in front of the class. We also give the learners smaller hand held boards which I write the notes on so the learner has the information right in front of them” says Cleo. “Visually impaired learners also often struggle with terrible headaches because they are constantly straining their eyes and necks in order to try and see what is written on the boards”

To assist the learner Cleo interrupts the lessons with regular breaks. For example: for every hour of facilitation they get a 10 minute break.

At I Can! our Assessors also understand the learners’ needs and disabilities and they take these challenges into consideration when assessing work. In Cleo’s case, learners are videoed during activities and these videos are submitted as evidence of competency, (and the learners are not marked down if they are not looking at the camera!). We also print the learner guides on A3 paper in much bigger font to assist our visually impaired learners.

Blind and partially sighted learners have the right to various educational opportunities. Within these options, learners need to be provided with very specific skills and improved support services for which the necessary expertise is available or can readily be obtained here at I Can!