General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

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Schools failing blind children says report


Schools failing blind children says report
17/06/2008 :: Northern Ireland :: The Irish News

Blind children are not getting the support they need in school to excel with just one in six making it to third level education, new research yesterday revealed.

Just 17 per cent of blind and visually impaired pupils go on to university compared to 55 per cent of those without a disability, according to the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (Ahead).

It said the lack of braille books and specialist technology in schools mean blind children are being disadvantaged.

The body is calling on the government to take action and has come up with a series of recommendations including providing DVDs and CDs with all school text books.

"Children must wait an unacceptable length of time before receiving a braille book and often they do not get the entire book, but a chapter at a time," Ahead executive director Ann Heelan said.

"It seems impossible to guarantee that a small group of children, 400 to 500 at most, can easily obtain books in braille or electronic format."

The research shows that blind and visually impaired children are very disadvantaged at secondary level as they are not getting the basic resources that other children take for granted.

Ahead is unable to estimate how many blind children are in schools but visiting specialist teachers deal with around 226 in the secondary system.

The research also reveals that while the number of mainstream pupils going on to third level has soared, the amount of blind children has remained the same.

Ahead found that requests for braille books has fallen despite studies showing those taught the skill from an early age are more likely to get a job later in life.



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