Notwithstanding the conventional way of teaching Children with Special Needs (CWSN), the Inclusive Educators in Kashmir are gradually shifting to teach through the innovative methods by use of modern gadgets.
The Inclusive Educators believes that there is a need to maintain the equilibrium of both the conventional and modern way to keep the CWSN updated.
Rising Kashmir’s senior correspondent Riyaz Bhat spoke to some of the special tutors to understand which new gadgets they were using to teach the CWSN.
Javeed Ahmad, anInclusive Educator at Samagra Shikshasays that one particularly hard thing to deal with in education is blindness or other visual impairment issues. The assistive technology for visually impaired students refers to a range of tools, devices, and strategies that allow a CWSNto accomplish a task that they would otherwise be unable to do, or would have difficulty accomplishing effectively.
“Assistive technology can be simple or complex. Examples of low tech tools for students with visual impairments might include enlarged text or raised line paper, while high tech tools may encompass digital tools that “read” to the student, connect to a Braille display,” he said.
some of the techniques and gadgets that simplify teaching the CWSN includes tools like Text-To-Speech assistive, enlarged text, Handheld Magnifiers, electronic note-takers and much more.
“As an assistive technology, text-to-speech (TTS) software is designed to help children who have difficulties reading standard print. Common print disabilities can include blindness, dyslexia or any type of visual impairment, learning disability or other physical condition that impedes the ability to read,” he said.
Enlarged Text: For students with some existing visual dysfunction, providing text information in enlarged format may be the simplest strategy. As a general rule of thumb, 18 point or 24 point font size is good.
Handheld Magnifiers: These low-tech, portable tools allow students with some vision to access not only text, but other objects in their environment as well.
Braille: This is an essential tool for teaching literacy skills and will serve as a lifelong skill. Learning Braille allows students to experience aspects of written language such as spelling, grammar and sentence structure, and will provide a valuable foundation for written language.
Electronic Note takers (Braille): Electronic note takers are small, portable devices for storing information with the use of Braille or typewriter keyboards. The stored information may be accessed through a built-in speech synthesizer, a Braille display, or both.
Brailler (Perkins): The Brailler is the best machine ever for teacher to teach students Braille.
Audio Books: Audio books are generally recorded using human voice, and can be accessed through the use of specialized computer software, devices, or mainstream tools like Mp3 players.
Digital Text: The use of digital text provides one of the widest ranges of options to CWSN with varying needs. Visual aspects of documents and text can be customized, a variety of supports can be easily integrated, and digital text can be obtained through numerous resources.
Bold felt-tip markers: Writing tools using bold felt-tip markers or soft lead pencils can provide greater contrast on paper, allowing students with low vision to read with greater ease. Adaptive Paper Specialized paper with darkened lines, raised lines, or using color can significantly improve the writing of students with low vision.
Handheld Digital Recorder: A handheld digital recorder allows the student to record lectures, dictate assignments, or make notes to self.
Abacus: The abacus is a critical tool for early math development among students who are blind, but continues to be a practical tool for many students as they get older.
Adaptive calculators: Adaptive calculators range from simple 5-function, to scientific and graphic calculators. Built-in supports include large display and large keys, tactile or Braille keys, Braille displays (which are very expensive) and talking calculators.
Assistive Technology for Computer Access: Assistive Technology for Computer Access Skills and competence in computer use are essential to every student in the 21st century, and will significantly increase a student’s success in their pursuit of higher education.
Another Inclusive Educatior at Samagra Shiksha, Sabreen Zahrasays that education has upgraded now. There are a number of electronic gadgets specifically being made and designed for the visually impaired students.
“Nowadays we have talking calculators for the visually impaired students. Besides, there are specially designed smart-phones for the students having vision disability. The smart-phones are designed in a way which is feasible and easy for them to access,” she said.
Sabreen said that the talking keyboards are also being used nowadays to teach the visually impaired students. “Most importantly, the blind students who are using the mobility cane also came up with the modification. The mobility cane has a different sound effect that helps them find a better safe way.”
She further said, “Talking pens that also vibrate are also being used by the visually impaired students that help them in reading more quickly.”
Another Inclusive Educatorat Samagra Shiksha, Shabroza says that a child with special needs perceives the world in their own manner, which can cause frustration and anxiety when they realize their limitations, or don’t get the results they want to achieve. “This can lead a child to display anger, or create low self esteem.”
She said, “Children who are consistently forced to be active participants in a game with our rules become respondent or develop an ‘I can’t’ attitude. We need to teach such children in a way which they can understand with their unique abilities.”
Shabroza says that the special educators and the parents of those wards should believe in the value of educating them.
The tutor believes that CWSN should be encouraged and given time to work collaboratively and solve the problems upto whatever level they can attain. “Give CWSN students a chance to share and justify their thinking in different ways.We should have a greater acceptance of the diversity and the stronger belief that there is an inherent and intrinsic value in the CWSN,” she said.
Shabroza further says that “We should focus on developing more positive self esteem, because when someone has a healthy and positive self esteem, they will be able to accept themselves as they are.
“For people with disabilities, it is important to allow them to view their disabilities as just one component of their life and not the only component. A child with special needs has unique talents and abilities that need to be celebrated, not-judged in order for them to feel not only good about themselves but their accomplishments as well,” she said.