University of Edinburgh

Newsletter 17 Spring 2004

Further Educational Courses for Teachers including Visually Impaired Pupils (EU-Projekt Comenius 1)

This publication is to be welcomed and celebrated for many reasons. Inclusion for children and young people with visual impairment is a concept with aims which have been challenging us now for at least two decades, but never before as urgently as today. Success can only be ensured if teachers in mainstream schools are both knowledgeable about the support needs of these pupils and also confident that they can provide them with appropriate teaching and access to the curriculum and acceptance into the social life of the school. This book is a very timely contribution as it provides material for a staff development course for teachers in primary schools who already have or will have a child with blindness or low vision included in their classroom. It has been planned as a resource for specialists in the field of special education for visually impaired who run or would like to run courses for primary school teachers and staff. And who knows better what to include than people who already run such courses?

The partners of the FLUSS-Project (FLUSS comes from the German title of ‘Fortbildung von Lehrkräften für den gemeinsamen Unterricht mit sehgeschädigten Schülern’) come from Germany, Estonia, the Netherlands, Austria and Hungary. They work in special schools teaching children and young people with visual impairment in their institutions but, at the same time, providing consultancy services for pupils taught in mainstream schools; one institution provides consulting and support services to children and young people from early intervention to school leaving age in their local area; and finally, one university which trains VI teachers. The authors’ aim was to provide material which would enable primary school teachers to learn, in an interactive and stimulating way, about the implications of visual impairment and blindness for the daily living and learning of their pupils - those pupils with visual impairment and also their sighted peers. The authors have presented their material in the following topics:

Module A: Suggestion for preparing and organising further educational courses
Module B: Special educational consulting and support systems
Module C: Social and legal foundations for joint instruction (integration/ inclusion)
Module D: Visual impairment
Module E: Social competence
Module F: Adaptations
Module G: Methods and didactics of teaching
Module H: Mobility and movement

The combined knowledge and teaching skills of the writers of "Further Educational Courses for Teachers including Visually Impaired Pupils" have provided us with a priceless resource. Familiarity with its store of teaching materials and references would benefit those studying to become teachers of the visually impaired, experienced teachers and teacher trainers, such as myself, as well as those primary school teachers for whom it is principally intended. It has valuable lists of books, videos and articles, principally for German speakers. But as the writers explain, it is up to the course deliverers to insert appropriate reading and viewing material, as well as legislation, for teachers in their own country. As the writers come from a range of linguistic backgrounds some of the terminology is different from our own, but this does not hinder understanding.

No matter how much we would have welcomed and needed a publication like this, even ten years ago, it would not have been possible. This is the outcome of ongoing international collaboration of schools and institutions from western, central and eastern Europe. This collaboration is the fruit of many years of getting to know each other, supporting each other and sharing knowledge and skills with each other, which began after the momentous political changes of 1989 and the early 1990s. EU-Projekt Comenius 1 has made possible the sharing of material across cultural, political and language boundaries. We must be most grateful to the individuals who conceived and carried out this project. Many teachers and pupils with visual impairment and their families throughout Europe (and further afield) will benefit from their hard work and creativity.

German and English print versions can be obtained for 24.50 Euros from:
edition bentheim, Ohmstr. 7, D-97076 Würzburg
Telephone: ++ 49 931 23009 2391,
Fax: ++ 49 931 23009 2390

Marianna Buultjens