[ELA 7561] Re: Teaching Blind/Low Vision Adult ELLs

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Kaizen Program kaizen at literacyworks.org
Tue Nov 8 20:09:08 EST 2011

Hello Phil and all,

Once again, this is Sylvie Kashdan of the Kaizen Program for new English
Learners with
Visual Limitations.

If you have not been trained to teach students with visual impairments, you
need to gain the assistance of a teacher who has this skill and knowledge,
in order to most effectively teach English to an immigrant or refugee who
is blind or has low vision. You should check with an agency for the blind in
your state for such support.

Teachers need to bring together the skills of both fields to be fair to such
and provide them with the multiple interrelated learning experiences they

Since immigrants and refugees with visual impairments vary widely in their
educational, job and life experiences, as well as in their degree of vision
loss and knowledge of compensatory skills for living with the lack of
vision, teaching them effectively involves taking into account a number of
different factors and utilizing a number of different methods in meaningful

The primary methods we use in the Kaizen Program are total physical
response, language experience stories, teaching for multiple intelligences
and through multiple senses, and highly interpersonal and interactive
teaching for all levels of language development.

We are also dedicated to teaching all students literacy, either using large
print or braille, whichever is most appropriate for each student. High tech
computer and other synthesized speech solutions are not enough for such
students any more than for fully sighted immigrants and refugees.

In the United States today some degree and kind of literacy is important for
all adults, for independence and dignity. Reading and writing play a role
in most everyday tasks--at home, in stores, on the street, using public or
private transportation, and at work. The more reading and writing we can do
on our own, the more independent each of us can be and the more self-respect
we can have. Literacy is also important for becoming more fully informed
about issues and events of importance to us and letting others know what we
think; for the pleasures of reading letters from friends and relatives,
stories, poetry, etc.... and writing our own.

Literacy is just as important for adults who are visually-impaired or blind
as for anyone else. And it is no more difficult to acquire, given the
proper assistance and support. Moreover, whether or not one is functionally
literate, using either print or braille, plays a large part in one's quality
of life. In today's job market, it strongly affects one's employment
opportunities or lack thereof. Even for those who are not seeking paid
employment, whether or not a person has and utilizes literacy skills plays a
large role in how much self-respect, independence, access, inclusion and
equal treatment that person can experience.

Many immigrants and refugees from countries outside the United States,
Western Europe or Oceania never learned to read and write in their first
language because of poverty and the need to go to work at an early age.
Those who had visual impairments as children or developed them as adults
often suffered from the lack of educational opportunities for students
needing accessible formats, such as large print or braille.

Coming to the United States opens up new opportunities for blind and
visually-impaired immigrants and refugees to acquire functional literacy in
accessible formats, as part of acquiring the new language and beginning to
feel more self-confident, becoming more independent in their everyday lives,
and feeling as if they have greater general control over their futures.

With this in mind, it is vital that all of us--professionals and
volunteers--who are involved in assisting blind and visually-impaired
new-comers prioritize helping them to develop real functional literacy, not
just oral English proficiency.

If you haven't already, you are welcome to read the articles on our web site
to get some idea of what can be done, including

Kaizen Program: Informational Brochure


Teaching English to Immigrants and Refugees with Visual Limitations: How do
you do it?


Notes on the Needs of New English Learners with Vision Limitations


Kaizen Program: Population Survey


American Foundation for the Blind Symposium Paper, 2002

Teaching English as a New Language to Visually Impaired and Blind ESL
Students: Problems and Possibilities


We also have a number of other articles to share which are not on our web
site. If you have a need for more specific information, you can write us

kaizen at literacyworks.org

Best regards,

Sylvie Kashdan, M.A.
Instructor/Curriculum Coordinator
KAIZEN PROGRAM for New English Learners with Visual Limitations
810-A Hiawatha Place South
Seattle, WA 98144, U.S.A.
phone: (206) 784-5619
email: kaizen at literacyworks.org
web: http://www.nwlincs.org/kaizen/

----- Original Message -----
From: "Anderson, Philip" <Philip.Anderson at fldoe.org>
To: <englishlanguage at lincs.ed.gov>
Sent: Tuesday, November 08, 2011 9:09 AM
Subject: [ELA 7557] Teaching Blind/Low Vision Adult ELLs

Have you had adult English Language Learners (ELL) in your class who
were blind or had low vision? If so, what resources and teaching
strategies did you use?

>From time to time in our state (Florida), adult ELL teachers have one or

two students who enroll for class. Today, I had a request for any
resources that may be available out there.

I would be very interested in the hearing from anyone who has experience
working with these students.

I found this statement below in the Adult ESL Practitioner Toolkit from
the Center for Applied Linguistics.

"Technology exists to enlarge text on the computer screen (Aladdin Gene)
and translate text into Braille and send it to a Braille embosser
(Duxbury Braille Translation Software). Other software takes text from
paper, scans it into a computer, processes it, and then reads it aloud
by computer using a software speech synthesizer. Students in college
programs (e.g., in the graduate school of education at George Mason
University in Fairfax, VA) have access to these assistive devices. For
more information, see Assistive Technology Lab, Helen A. Kellar
Institute for Disabilities, http://kihd.gmu.edu/resources/

Robert Breitbard, the adult education director of Collier County, FL,
sent me several websites. The list is below.

"Teaching English as a New Language to Visually Impaired and Blind ESL
Students: Problems and Possibilities"


Kaizen Program for New English Learners with Visual Limitations (Sylvie
Kashdan and Robby Barnes) Seattle, Washington
St. James ESL Program (Cecilia Erin Walsh) Seattle, Washington


A resource for teachers of children and adult ELLs with disabilities in
general. It has a section for teachers of blind/low vision students.


A resource with teaching tips for teachers in general who have blind/low
vision students in their classes.

Phil Anderson

Adult ESOL Specialist

Florida Department of Education

(850) 245-9450


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