Teachers lack skills to teach visual, hearing impaired learners

20 Jun 2014 14:50pm
WINDHOEK, 20 JUN (NAMPA) - Special schools in the Oshana Region which accommodate learners with visual and hearing impairments are challenged by a lack of skills amongst teachers to effectively teach such learners.
In her presentation on challenges in assessment and evaluation in that region at the Southern Africa Association for Educational Assessment (SAAEA) conference - which ended in the capital on Wednesday - the Inspector of Education in the Oshana Region's Ompundja Circuit, Menette Nambala said there is a language barrier between learners with impairments and teachers as teachers cannot understand Braille, which contributes to learners not being properly assessed.
She expressed concern that mainstream teachers do not understand sign language or Braille, and teaching is only possible when there are interpreters and transcribers.
Special schools also face a challenge with the availability of resources to meet the needs of learners with impairments.
These resources include the acute lack of textbooks, computers and computer software, which enable Braille and/or sign language interpretation.
She noted that schools which accommodate visually-impaired learners should have Braille materials such as paper and machines readily available, and equipment such as the View Plus Pro Embosser, a machine which turns plain text in to Braille, is not available in Namibia.
Nambala further stated that materials meant for the Special Education curriculum are often received late due to bureaucratic communication channels, which makes it difficult for schools to meet important deadlines.
Language development initiatives must thus be strengthened, given the existence of the Centre for Sign Language Development in Windhoek.
This will enable the availability of a broad range of words for use during normal language interactions.
There is also a need for the full training of teacher interpreters and transcribers for them to acquire interpretation skills.
Nambala stressed that in order for the country to get a pool of qualified teachers prepared to handle inclusive education, specifically for learners with visual and hearing impairment, there is a need for effective pre-service training, which should deepen teachers' understanding, and equip them with skills in dealing with learners with impairments.
The countries which were represented at the conference included Lesotho, Swaziland, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, the United Kingdom (UK) and host Namibia.
It took place over three days - from 16 to 18 June 2014.