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Summary Details

Query:   Blind Student in Foreign Language Class
Author:  Beate Luo
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Applied Linguistics

Summary:   Re: Issue 12.728

Two weeks ago I posted a question asking for experiences with blind students in a foreign language class. Here is a summary with all the very usefull advices:

Joseph Tomei told me about the JALT (Japan Association of Language Teachers) publication
language talk, which had an article on teaching blind students. The URL for this very interesting article is

He as well coppied two messages from the email list jalttalk, that I summarize here:

The first one is from Martin Pauly:
1) You don't have to learn Braille. If you assign a speech that's to be read in class the blind student can read his/her braille copy, while the others read their print/ink copies.
2) If you assign a composition you can request a print copy from the blind student. He/she will use voice output or Braille display when inputting but can print out a regular hard copy. Again, you don't have to know how to operate the computer or read Braille. (This assumes that the person is computer literate and most of those who have come up through the schools for the blind are.)

A good reference is A Blind Child in my Classroom--A Handbook for Primary Teachers by Gillian Gale and Peter Cronin (RVIB Burwood Educational Series) ISBN 0 949390 10 0
This is one of the many useful publications available from

Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind
Burwood Education Centre
333 Burwood Highway
Burwood 3125
Fax: (03) 808 2194

The second one is from himself:
I taught at the Miyagi Prefectural School for the Blind for 3 years when I was a JET and it was one of the most rewarding experiences for me. One of the first surprises is that some of the students were weak sighted rather than blind, so you may want to check. If the student is weak sighted, you can use all of your handouts is you scale them up.
If she is totally blind (or so much that reading is impossible):
- If it's oral, there's not much problem, but if it requires paper tests of some sort, you should give some thought to designing tests that can be answered using a tape recorder.
- If you are using the language lab, you may want to set up one station with braille for the buttons so that she knows what to press.
- You will also have to critically examine the way you use the black/white board. This will depend on weak sighted versus blind.
-The reason I suggested braille markings for the cassette recorder is because you want the student to be as much as a regular member of the class.
- Having the student near the front of the class, using the student to model the activity, encouraging students either out loud or privately to interact with the student

Shamila Naidoo suggested that
- your student tape all lessons.
- let her have notes etc a week in advance so that she is familiar with what you speak about.

Erica Smale wrote:
Most importantly you ask the student first how best to help. Perhaps braille services would be required, or lectures taped. Language acquisition is all about hearing really, and orthographic difficulties should be easily overome with new available

Heinz Kreutz told me about his experience with a blind student: Apart from some special provisions, we found it much more effective to treat Ben in a 'mainstream' way, ie. he had to cope with the classroom and other students as if he were not blind.. Our university has a student liaison office, which makes sure that Ben's textbooks, handouts,
worksheets etc. are translated into braille. They also provide, as far as I know for about 1-2 hours per week, a private teacher (one of my PhD students in German linguistics) who makes sure Ben stays in touch with homework and assessment tasks.

Dan TeVelde wrote about his own experiences with learning German: She will have to either use Braille books, recorded books, or computer software. Computers weren't available on a large scale when I studied German so I had to rely on Braille and recorded books. It might also be necessary to find readers for your student. While you are teaching the class you should speak the information you are writing on a blackboard or displaying on a computer screen. If she hears the exercises she should be able to follow. I usaully didn't have too much trouble following classes. I only had problems when the teacher
wouldn't plan ahead which books we were to read.

Thanks to all of you.

Beate Luo

LL Issue: 12.905
Date Posted: 01-Apr-2001
Original Query: Read original query


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