Educators

Tools for teaching

Are you are a teacher of a student who’s blind or has low vision? Or do you want to teach your class about blindness? Either way, the Blind Foundation can help.

Working with a blind or low vision preschool, primary or secondary student

If you have a child who’s blind or has low vision in your class, you can help them get the most out of their tuition.

Most children with sight loss will be taught braille by a vision resource teacher through the Ministry of Education.

A blind or low vision student might choose to have their learning materials in braille. They will use the same books as their sighted classmates, only their books will be in braille. The Blind Foundation works with BLENNZ to provide all materials for students.

You can download some handy free resources below:

Common Preschool Recommendations (.doc)

A Guide for Teachers and Therapists Working With A Child Who is Blind Or Has Low vision (.doc)

Contrast- Helpful pointers for people who are blind or who have low vision (.doc)

Working with a blind or low vision tertiary student

There are so many ways every staff member of your tertiary institution can set up blind or have low vision students for success.  Key to this success is knowing that everyone is unique, and the arrangements for one student may not suit another. For example some people with low vision can see enough to read large clear print, whereas people with little or no vision will use special equipment to read.

This section of the site gives you pointers to understand how to provide the best environment for your students.  Check out the snippets below for some key pointers, or read Information for Tertiary Institutions (.pdf).

Policies

For a start, policies need to give students who are blind or have low vision a framework to seek appropriate assistance.  And every staff member needs to be aware of those policies.   This can include things like appointing a disability coordinator or liaison officer and offering information such as enrolment forms in accessible formats.  The best way to properly accommodate the needs of any blind or low vision student is to follow the ACHIEVE endeavour.

Students must be able to study under conditions that are equivalent to any other student. That means the provision of support, resources, and accommodation is consistent at all times and across all departments, as it would be for all students.

Records

One important area to note is staff should keep written records of discussions, negotiations and resolutions made with each individual student.  The student will also need a copy in their preferred format (such as Braille or audio).  These notes could cover areas such as:

  • the format(s) in which texts are required.
  • who will organise and pay for any format production.
  • test and exam accommodations negotiated.
  • how timetable, venue changes, and other notices will be communicated.

Accessing Information

Tertiary students who are blind or have low vision need to access the same types of information as other students. This might be calendars, book lists and departmental handbooks, or text books and handouts.

Depending on the student’s eye condition and level of sight, they’ll read information using different techniques.

A blind or low vision student might choose to have their learning materials in braille.  They will use the same materials as their sighted fellow students, produced in braille.  The Blind Foundation’s Accessible Formats Service (.pdf) works with the student and you to provide the required materials.

To find out more about getting material in accessible formats please phone 0800 24 33 33 or email workflow.coordinator@blindfoundation.org.nz

Interacting

You might  find information on how to guide or how to assist a person who’s blind or has low vision useful.

The needs of individual students are quite different and need to be understood before classes begin.  It’s reasonable to expect students to know what they need from tertiary staff.  They’ll also be expected to have the appropriate equipment and skills required before they begin a course.

Different staff will have different interactions with clients.  For a full list of information specific to your role, or to talk to one of the Blind Foundation team, please get in touch on 0800 24 33 33 or email generalenquiries@blindfoundation.org.nz

Teaching students about blindness

Students of all ages are fascinated by braille.  The Blind Foundation has a great braille resource called Connect the Dots.  You can use it help students understand to how people who are blind or have low vision find out information.

Learning braille

You can learn braille to help some students, or for your own professional development. The Trans-Tasman Certificate in Unified English Braille is available in New Zealand through the Braille Authority of New Zealand Aotearoa Trust (BANZAT).  The examination period normally runs late September into early October. BANZAT is the national body responsible for setting and maintaining braille standards in New Zealand.