LINGUIST List 12.905

Sun Apr 1 2001

Sum: Blind Student in Foreign Language Class

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. beate luo, Re: summary: blind student in a foreign language class

Message 1: Re: summary: blind student in a foreign language class

Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 08:16:16 +0800
From: beate luo <>
Subject: Re: summary: blind student in a foreign language class

Re: Issue 12.728

Two weeks ago I posted a question asking for experiences with blind 
students in a foreign language class.
Here is a summary with all the very usefull advices:

Joseph Tomei told me about the JALT (Japan Association of Language 
Teachers) publication
language talk, which had an article on teaching blind students. The URL 
for this very interesting article is

He as well coppied two messages from the email list jalttalk, that I 
summarize here:

The first one is from Martin Pauly:
1) You don't have to learn Braille. If you assign a speech that's to 
be read in class the blind student can read his/her braille copy, while 
others read their print/ink copies.
2) If you assign a composition you can request a print copy from the 
blind student. He/she will use voice output or Braille display when 
inputting but
can print out a regular hard copy. Again, you don't have to know how to 
operate the computer or read Braille. (This assumes that the person is
computer literate and most of those who have come up through the schools 
for the blind are.)
A good reference is A Blind Child in my Classroom--A Handbook for 
Primary Teachers by Gillian Gale and Peter Cronin (RVIB Burwood 
Educational Series) ISBN 0 949390 10 0
This is one of the many useful publications available from
Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind
Burwood Education Centre
333 Burwood Highway
Burwood 3125
Fax: (03) 808 2194

The second one is from himself:
I taught at the Miyagi Prefectural School for the Blind for 3 years when 
I was a JET and it was one of the most rewarding experiences for
me. One of the first surprises is that some of the students were weak 
sighted rather than blind, so you may want to check. If the student
is weak sighted, you can use all of your handouts is you scale them up.
If she is totally blind (or so much that reading is impossible):
- If it's oral, there's not much problem, but if it requires paper tests 
of some sort, you should give some thought to designing tests that can 
be answered using a tape recorder.
- If you are using the language lab, you may want to set up one station 
with braille for the buttons so that she knows what to press.
- You will also have to critically examine the way you use the 
black/white board. This will depend on weak sighted versus blind.
The reason I suggested braille markings for the cassette recorder is 
because you want the student to be as much as a regular member of the 
- Having the student near the front of the class, using the student to 
model the activity, encouraging students either out loud or privately to 
interact with the student

Shamila Naidoo suggested that
- your student tape all lessons. 
- let her have notes etc a week in advance so that she is familiar with 
what you speak about. 

Erica Smale wrote: Most importantly you ask the student first how best
to help. Perhaps braille services would be required, or lectures
taped. Language acquisition is all about hearing really, and
orthographic difficulties should be easily overome with new available

Heinz Kreutz told me about his experience with a blind student: Apart
from some special provisions, we found it much more effective to treat
Ben in a 'mainstream' way, ie. he had to cope with the classroom and
other students as if he were not blind.. Our university has a student
liaison office, which makes sure that Ben's textbooks, handouts,
worksheets etc. are translated into braille. They also make availa
provide, as far as I know for about 1-2 hours per week, a private
teacher (one of my PhD students in German linguistics) who makes sure
Ben stays in touch with homework and assessment tasks.

Dan TeVelde wrote about his own experiences with learning German: She
will have to either use Braille books, recorded books, or computer
software. Computers weren't available on a large scale when I studied
German so I had to rely on Braille and recorded books. It might also
be necessary to find readers for your student. While you are teaching
the class you should speak the information you are writing on a
blackboard or displaying on a computer screen. If she hears the
exercises she should be able to follow. I suaully didn't have too
much trouble following classes. I only had problems when the teacher
wouldn't plan ahead which books we were to read.

Thanks to all of you.

Beate Luo
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