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Training of Teachers of the Visually Impaired in Europe
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5. Standards required by specialist teachers of children with a visual impairment. Training outcomes and quality assurance.
The role of the specialist teacher of the visually impaired is diverse, complex and continually evolving. Such teachers may have responsibility for:
- Supporting and advising teachers in institutions (for example assessment, curriculum planning, preparations of materials and the planning of a learning environment).
- and may work alongside
- individuals and groups or children and young people with a visual impairment
- parents and professionals from other disciplines, such as doctors and social workers, low vision therapists, rehabilitation and mobility workers, policy makers.
The educational goals for students with vision impairment are the same as those for all other students. The goals must reflect a holistic and interactive approach to education. These would include:
- effective communication
- social competence
- preparation for employment and life after school
- personal independence.
This document deals solely with the minimum or core set of standards required by specialist teachers of children with a visual impairment. Training courses should;
- Take account of the needs of children and young people with a visual impairment across the whole age and ability spectrum and take into account the full range of provision and
- be equivalent to one full time year of training.
Specialist teachers should be able to meet the needs of children with a visual impairment ranging from limited but useful vision to total blindness.
It is assumed that those attending training courses to become a specialist teacher of the visually impaired will have already completed a recognised initial teacher training programme and will have qualified teacher status in their own country. Additional entry requirements such as relevant experience will be at the discretion of each training institution and country.
Competencies required by a teacher of the visually impaired
The teacher should be able to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of:
- Current national and local developments and legislation in curriculum and assessment and their implications for learners with a visual impairment;
- The anatomy and physiology of the eye and an understanding of visual functioning;
- The educational implications of pathology and treatment of eye diseases and conditions;
- The implications of visual impairment on physical, cognitive, emotional, social and language development and their effect upon the individual's independence;
- The development of secondary senses (hearing, touch etc.) when primary sense is impaired;
- The appropriate methods of teaching and communication for children and young people who have visual impairment including those with multiple or dual sensory impairment;
- The principles of assessment of functional vision;
- Appropriate strategies to enhance functional vision;
- An awareness of the principles of mobility and ADL training;
- The appropriate information and communication technology and its applications for those with visual impairment;
- The distinction between roles of a teacher in a special schools; an itinerant teacher or a resource teacher in a mainstream school or college;
- The range and functions of support services available to those with a visual impairment;
- Research methodologies and how to interpret research findings
The teacher should be able to demonstrate an ability to:
- Carry out an appropriate assessment of the educational needs of children and young persons with a visual impairment and to identify and organise assessment in other areas and to present a report of the assessment;
- Use information gathered from assessment to design and manage an adapted teaching programme, taking account of the competing demands of the national curriculum and the special curriculum;
- Use information gathered from ongoing assessment to design an appropriate physical and social learning environment;
- Monitor and evaluate the implementation of individual student programs and learning environments and plan the next stage in the education of the individual;
- Implement a teaching program to train residual vision and evaluate its effectiveness;
- Design, produce, present and evaluate material in the appropriate medium for all students with visual impairment e.g. objects of reference, tactile diagrams, braille and in large print using both traditional methods and new technology;
- Co-operate with a qualified mobility specialist in the design and delivering of mobility programs;
- Employ appropriate strategies for teaching literacy and numeracy skills in the appropriate media to the young braille user;
- Use appropriate strategies for teaching the braille code to late beginners;
- Assess, plan and evaluate for the application of available micro technology in meeting the needs of children and young people with visual impairment;
- Facilitate the use of a range of hardware and software and employ criteria for evaluating usefulness and appropriateness;
- Use established networks to access resources;
- Lead training sessions for teachers, non-teaching assistants, parents and relevant others in the field of visual impairment;
- Assist parents and learners to participate in decision making processes;
- Support the inclusion of a visually impaired child or young person in the school and community;
- Use a range of interpersonal skills; appropriate for working with children, parents and professionals;
- Use the above mentioned competencies in all situations and settings involving children and young people with a visual impairment;
- Carry out simple research using a range of methods e.g. observation
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