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The 'Saint Barnabas' School for the Blind
Nicosia, Cyprus
 
 Children with visual impairment attending mainstream educational settings

According to the Education Law of 1999 for children with special needs, students with visual impairment (VI) are educated in the mainstream schools of their neighbourhood and are supported by 'peripatetic' teachers of the School for the Blind. The organisation of the provision of support services for children with VI is undoubtedly a key factor for the success of their attendance/ integration.

 More specifically:

Children with VI, their families and the school units they attend, are the main recipients of the support services

Teachers from the School for the Blind visit the mainstream schools on a regular basis and work together with the teaching staff and other personnel of the school

The role of the 'peripatetic' teachers is primarily consultative and among other services includes:

  • Providing the teaching staff and other personnel of the school unit with information about the child's VI and its implications
  • Cooperating with all those involved in the education of the child as well as other specialists, like social workers, psychologists etc
  • Providing assistance to the classroom teachers with practical solutions that are helpful to the child (e.g. the sitting position in the classroom, the lighting of the room etc)
  • Suggestions are made for alterations in the teaching method as well as the curriculum, where that is possible, so as to meet the child's needs
  • Suggestions are also made for alterations to the general environment of the school (environmental audit) for the easiest and safest access to all areas of the school
  • Every child is introduced to the necessary electronic and other technical means that they will need for their education, giving them the chance to compete with their sighted peers on equal terms
  • Training the child in the use of such electronic means and providing them with the equipment itself for use at home and/or at school, as well as technical support
  • Adaptation and preparation of teaching and other materials for the educational needs of children with VI (Braille translations, embossed maps and diagrams, enlargements etc)
  • Special emphasis is placed on the social aspect and on enabling each child to feel and become an equal member of their peer group

 Support services concern both:

  • children with VI who attend the primary department of the School for the Blind but at some stage will be integrated into mainstream educational settings, upon completion of a preparatory programme for integration, as well as
  • children who have always been students in mainstream schools. This group includes both children whose VI was diagnosed right from the beginning and also children whose impairment was not diagnosed until a later stage. In the latter case, an early intervention programme for children and their families is applied so as to enable them to accept the problem while at the same time cooperation with the child's school unit begins.

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Last Update: 13 June, 2005
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