Division on Visual Impairments

VIDBEQ 62(2) Spring 2017

A quarterly newsletter from the Council for Exceptional Children's Division on Visual Impairments containing practitioner tips for Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists, and other professionals.

Issue link: http://dvi.uberflip.com/i/827904

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Page 25 of 39

Susan M. Schultz, St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY, sschultz@sjfc.edu Jessica E. Schultz, Prince William County School District, Virginia Alexander T. Schultz, Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, TX In 2014, 4.6 million students, or 9.4% of the public school student population, were English as a second Language Learners (ELLs) (National Center for Education Statistics, 2017). As the United States becomes more diverse each year, the overall number of students who are ELLs is expected to increase. Conroy (2005) asserts that given the increase in the number of ELLs in special education, it is reasonable to assume that ELLs who are also visually impaired will too increase. Teachers may find ELLs with visual impairments a challenge when they are adapting materials for the diverse learners in their classrooms. Most have had little, if any, experience with English Language Learners with visual impairments. Some may falsely assume that these learners are unlikely to be successful in the classroom or are at risk for not mastering the standards (Kocyigit & Artar, 2015). Kocyigit and Artar (2015) state that learning differences can have an enormous effect on the classroom environment. Therefore, it is necessary to provide support to the teachers of ELLs with visual impairments on how to best meet their students' needs and promote success. Best practices for students with visual impairments emphasize using verbal instruction. Students with visual impairments often have gaps in background knowledge and vocabulary due to their impairment. Those with severe visual impairments may not be able to learn through casual observation. While a sighted toddler can look over from the kitchen table to see their mother cooking and observe pots, pans, oven mitts, etc. a child with a severe visual impairment has no knowledge of these objects unless they are directly exposed to them. For ELLs, there is a heavy reliance on using visual media, such as pictures and gestures to support instruction and broaden their understanding of semantics, a strategy that is unlikely to work with ELLs Strategies for visually impaired bilingual learners to improve their understanding of academic language VIDBE-Q Volume 62 Issue 2 26

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