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Conclusion There are perhaps few decisions made on behalf of students with visual impairments that are more crucial, yet subject to more confusion and controversy, than the decision regarding an appropriate reading medium.
Making an initial determination of the appropriate reading medium is not a concern for those who have no visual impairment i. Difficulties may arise, however, in making decisions for those students who are visually impaired but not totally blind.
The purpose of this article is to address these difficulties and propose guidelines for appropriate decision making. Few published procedures have been available to teachers and parents for assistance in making decisions concerning selection of a reading medium for students with visual impairments.
Perhaps the lack of attention in the literature addressing this difficult problem has led to a sense of confusion that has fueled the controversy between teaching print reading or teaching braille reading. While common guidelines for such decisions may be teaching kids to write an acceptance speech by professionals throughout the country, these have not been thoroughly documented.
In the past, professionals believed that use of vision could impair sight even further Irwin, It was common practice to blindfold, and teach braille reading to all students who were visually impaired and, therefore, "save their sight" for other tasks.
The decision to teach braille reading was made without consideration of visual functioning. Today, best professional practice and federal legislation specify that educational decisions must be made by a multidisciplinary team according to the individual needs and abilities of each student.
These decisions must be based on information obtained from systematic procedures. Such procedures must be used to determine the most appropriate reading medium for each child. This article will focus on students who are entering a developmental reading program, i.
Students with adventitious visual impairments present separate concerns that, while important, will not be considered within the scope of this paper. The early years of a student's life represent a critical period for development of skills that will provide the foundation for all future learning and living.
An essential part of this critical period is the role that professionals and parents have in assuring that a solid foundation is provided for each student.
No one can predict the future with absolute certainty. However, professionals and parents are called upon to make informed decisions as a team in order to assure an appropriate education for each student with a visual impairment; one essential team decision will involve the primary reading medium.
Diagnostic teaching in the decision-making process Decisions on the appropriate reading medium cannot be made on the basis of arbitrary information, such as the legal definition of blindness, since students with visual impairments use their vision with differing degrees of efficiency.
The early years of a student's education should be used as a diagnostic teaching phase during which different options for reading and writing can be explored.
The period of reading readiness presents an ideal time for implementation of a diagnostic teaching approach, since readiness activities seek to stimulate all the senses in preparation for formal reading.
By using a diagnostic teaching approach to early reading instruction, teachers and parents can collect information about a student's preference for gathering sensory information.
Support for the need for one reading medium or another can be derived from these data. The key element is collecting information that will provide a basis for informed decision making, a process that is undeniably superior to decisions based on arbitrary or superficial information.
Characteristics of diagnostic teaching Diagnostic teaching combines the two essential educational practices of instruction and assessment and may be characterized by the following principles: The use of diagnostic teaching practices is by no means new.
Although such an approach is typically associated with the diagnosis and remediation of learning problems, the case can be made that it has value for other applications in which a problem-solving approach is needed.
The diagnostic teaching approach provides an excellent means of putting together pieces of a puzzle when one piece is missing or unknown.
The determination of the appropriate reading medium for young children with visual impairments who are beginning to read can be achieved through the use of these strategies. The process of collecting information The process of diagnostic teaching uses incidental and structured observations, indirect and direct teaching, and ongoing assessment as a basis for guiding subsequent instruction.
By collecting information on visual and tactual efficiency over several months or years of careful diagnostic teaching, a student's learning style will undoubtedly begin to emerge.
At this point, educators should have acquired some preliminary indication of whether a student is primarily a visual learner or primarily a tactual learner, as well as information on the rate of learning with the preferred sensory modality. For some students, a decision on the appropriate reading medium may be made relatively early in the readiness phase, but additional information may be needed for others.
Readiness for formal reading instruction is signaled by the establishment of a number of skills, such as showing interest in books; showing interest in, and telling stories from, pictures; discriminating likenesses and differences in abstract symbols, geometric shapes, letters, and simple words; copying letters and words; identifying one's own name; and identifying letter names and simple sight words.
As these skills are being established, a wealth of information can be collected to support the decision for a specific reading medium. For students whose primary reading medium was not established earlier, scrutiny of the more "formal" readiness skills will be necessary.
As students enter the stage in which they are learning prerequisite skills for reading, the educator should provide exposure to printed materials and braille materials, either concurrently or sequentially, in order to determine the level of sustained interest and the rate of learning of specific skills in each medium.
After a period of instruction and time to eliminate any novelty effect, the student's use of either the print or braille labels could be determined through observation or direct assessment.
For a student who has not demonstrated a consistent pattern of visual or tactual learning, the data collected during this period of time will be most crucial for consideration by the multidisciplinary team in determining the reading medium.Educators can be great allies in keeping your youngster with Aspergers (AS) or High-Functioning Autism safe and successful in school, but you'll need to make sure they have all .
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