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					                                ModernLonguoges visuollyimpoired
                         Teqching             to
Heidi Couper

lntroduction                                                           the desirability of integrating visually handicapped pupils into
   'One of the "golden rules" of teachingis that the more senses       the mainstream and selectedthe subjectsof her study accord-
                                                                       ingly. Although shepresentssomeencouragingmodels of team-
   one engages betterand quickeris the process learning'.
                 the                                   of              work which have provided excellent opportunities for these
   (7987:63)                                                                                                       it
                                                                                                          schools, is still striking hou'
                                                                       pupils, particularly in secondary
   With this bold statement, Tihomir Nikolic, a blind professorof      varied the evolution of these LEA support services has been
English in Belgrade,preciselycapturesthe challengein teaching          around the country and how frequently she discovers that
visuallv impaired children. Deprived of their senseof vision,          pupils are designatedto untrained assistants.  Nevertheless,she
thesepupili are denied the easibstand most widely-used route           concludes:
to learning, namely using visual stimuli - but may successfully          'Children who are of average or above average ability and
use other sensesvia teaching methods which might benefit all             who have no handicap other than the visual impairment have
children.                                                                been found in the the authorities studied to be able to benefit
   On reading his statement,it would be tempting to add                  from full integration. Their needs lie quite specifically in the
nowhere more so than in language teaching', which demands                areaof access the curriculum'. (1991:180)
skills directly calling on severalsenses few other subjectsdo.
                                         as                              Her brief is not to concentrateon particular subjectsand she
I decided to look at theseskills particularly as prescribedby the      therefore makes little referenceto languageteaching but on the
National Curriculum and how they are acquired by visually              National Curriculum as a whole she goeson to say:
impaired children in both mainstream and special schools.A               'It has been seenthat, whether blind or partially sighted, such
wide variety of languageteachingmethodologies        were usedby         children can benefit from all areasof the national curriculum.
the authors I studied; each seemed to have different merits              The teaching approachesor the detailed content of some sub-
making choice difficult. Although the current communicative              iectsmay need to be modified, but no major curriculum area
method might be thought particularly accessible blind and                needs   tobe neglected'. (1991:181)
partially sighted children, teaching in the target language was          And focusing particularly on language teaching in a wider,
still a debatableissueamongstauthors,someof whom could not             geographicalcontext,Tihomir Nikolic not only sharesthis non-
justify it where the pupils' mother tongue and perception skills       separatist spirit but actively promotes foreign languages for
laggedbehind.As Nikolic (1987:63)     points out, this is obviously    thesechildren:
a wider issue worthy of its own study and not just specific              'No matter what their educational level, the visually handi-
to visually impaired pupils. Whilst considering the historical           capped often display a marked talent for learning foreign
perspective, took an integrationistapproachand startedfrom
              I                                                          languages.This seemsto be the result of a particular aural
the premise that visually impaired pupils in Britain now would           sensitivity and the memory training which forms part of the
necessarily  learn by current methodology and would follow the           rehabilitation process.Experience shows that children who
National Curriculum.                                                     have been neglectededucitionally achieveexcellentresults in
                                                                         Iearning foreign languages,especiallyduring the oral stage'.
    The incidence of visual impairment amongst British children
is relatively low compared to other types of special need. There
are problems in compiling accurate statistics: no form of classi-
fication of visually impaired children is completely satisfactory         Whilst communicative teaching methods might appear to
as the influence of an eye condition on actual visual functioning      be particularly accessibleto visually impaired pupils, these
is so difficult to assess.Nor are there easily definable boundaries    methods often rely on visual stimuli. In contrast to all other
between partial sight and blindness and the severity of eye con-       special needs pupils (and indeed all classroom pupils) visual
ditions may fluctuate over a period of time. Statistics also vary as   support in languageteachingto pupils with visual impairments
it is estimated that up to 50Voof visuallv impaired children have      is frequently simply not relevant. Does this present an
additional physical handicaps, emotional oi learning difficulties.     insurmountable problem to language teachers and pupils in
Figures compiled by the DoE in 1982 suggested the incidence of         special or mainstream schools?J. M. Rhyne writing in 1981
partial sight amongst schoolchildren to be just over two Per           statedemphatically not:
                                                                          'The visually impaired student who learns a foreign language
10,000 fully sighted (1989); an RNIB survey of eight LEAs in7991.
recorded the number of visually impaired children as anything             will require few, if any, special adaptationsin the classroom.
between 1.5 and 4.2per thousand 0997).                                    The audiolingual method now being used by many foreign
    Since the Warnock report, there has been a move towards               Ianguage programmes is particularly suited to the visually
integration of visually impaired and other Special Needs                  impaired student becauseof its emphasis on listening and
pupils into mainstream education. However, Seamus Hegarty                 speaking'. (1987:246)
(7993:96-97) claims that because of the small numbers involved,           As we shall seebelow, not all previous or subsequentauthors
local authority services for these pupils have been very slow to       were as optimistic about teaching strategies as Mr Rhyne.
develop. There was a lack of perceived need and so most chil-          However, first, drawing on the scant literature available, I was
dren #ere educated in special ichools, often fee-paying. By 1985,      interested to investigate whether, given any opportunity,
two-thirds of LEAs had a peripatetic, specialist suPPort service       visually impaired children had beenfound to be gifted linguists.
but this included only one or two qualified teachers and very          Taking into account the historical and cultural perspective
few specifically trained mobility or support staff. Jasmine            (language-teachingmethods must be as diverse as are the
Dawkins (1991) in conjunction with the RNIB conducted a                definitions of a 'good linguist'), there seemedto be a universal
survey in 1991 into eight LEAs and a number of case studies of         concensus thesepupils were adept,at least,at languages.
                                                                                   that                                               A
individual youngsters. Whilst acknowledging that education in          study made in Liverpool in 7966and reported in Teacher the  of
a special school will always be more relevant and feasible for a       Blind marvelled over the successof its pupils in the language
                                                                                                            'good ear':
smill number of visually impaired children, she wished to stress       laboratories,attributing it to their

6                                                                                                        Language Learning lourilal No.13, Match 1996
      'If it is possibleto relate success   in the languagelaboratory       more structured support. Just as individuals vary, the differing
     and success another subjectin the caseof blind children, I             make-up of a classalso influencesthe way in which pupils learn
     suspect    that the other subjectwould be music'. (796619)             and teachers teach, even when adopting a communicative
     A seriesof SpecialIntensive Language Coursesfor the Blind              approach.In this context,a group of entirely visually impaired
  held in the sixties and evaluatedby RossMacDonald (1966)laid              pupils might inspire more different teaching and learning
  much emphasison developing stress,intonation and rhythm                   strategiesthan a heterogeneousgroup of sighted and visually
  amongst its sfudents and comprised four-hour intensive                    impaired children. Even within a 'specialclass'such as thoseI
  languagelab, role play, dialogue and other communicativeexer-             observed at the special school, the students had many varying
  ciseswith apparently 'above-averageresults'. However, moti-               degreesof impairment which, in educationalterms,divided into
  vation amongstthe studentswas perhapsunusually high as they               those who learned by sighted methods and those who used
  wished to work as translatorsor languageteachers.                         Braille (with some using both). To investigate some of the
     Nikolic, whilst remarking on his pupils' 'aural sensitivity' and       challengesvisually impaired pupils and their teachersface in
  stating categorically that 'the senseof hearing is the basis for          learning a foreign language, I considered the four Attainment
  learning a language,while the sight plays a supporting role' is           Targets.
 more cautious on an analogy with music, reminding us that
  'well-trained earsdo not necessarilv
                                            equatewith success lan-
 guage studies' (1,986:223      and 224).- Nevertheless,the ability to       Listening Speoking
 mimic and recognise       aural patternsis a theme taken up time and            Regardless differing language-teaching
                                                                                             of                               ideologiespopular
 again by authors. Valerie Price writing only recently urged                  at the time, all the authors are unanimous in their emphasison
 modern languageteachersto                                                    aural and oral work, particularlywith beginners.    Yeariey(1928)
     'capitalise on the generally better
                                             listening and oral skills of     recommends at least one complete term of purely oral work,
    the visually impaired, particularly those who are blind'.                 Nikolic (J98D at least three months.
     (7993:11.9)                                                                 The teacherswho conducted language laboratory experi-
    Nikolic also cites a well-trained memory as a meaningful                  ments at Liverpool's Royal Schoolfor the Blind in 1966hailed
 factor in blind children's success languages.This is echoedby
                                       in                                     the particular advantages using a taperecorder blind stu-
                                                                                                           of                      for
 a lecture given by Yearley(1,978) RNIB WorcesterCollege in
                                        at                                    dents.Despitereservationsthat the languagelab machinery cre-
 1978who attributes his students' success learning French to
                                                   in                        ated a barrier (especially pertinent to blind children who
 five qualities: an excellent memory, enhancedconcentration,a                received much individual tuition anyway and risked feeling
 good ear, enthusiasmand lack of self-consciousness.                         isolated),they valued especiallythe opportunity recordings
    Given these high expectations,I was interested to observe                gavefor'active listening'wherebypupils would follow the tape
 blind pupils'performance in the languagesclassroomand spent                 with a Braille transcript.Thev also used manv communicative
 a day at a specialschool which takes academicallyable visually              exerciseswhich would be-relevant to any classes today
 impaired pupils. Comparisonswith a mainstream classa.e pei-                 (retelling a story from sound effects,recording role-plays,aural
 haps unfair given the special circumstancesof these pupils.                 gap-fills) and developed the idea of using tactile prompts or
Nevertheless it is perhaps worth mentioning that I was                        'touch and talk' by describing
                                                                                                                  objects and sometimes using
impressed,not so much by their French and German accentsas                   thesefor storytelling.
by their authentic intonation. Languages staff said that their                   Nikolic shares this approach, emphasising in particular the
pupils loved imitating and mimicking voices.I also noticed that              worth of tape-recorders:
although they were not exceptionally fluent in speaking,many                     'Tape-recordersmight be used instead
                                                                                                                           of blackboards in the
had a wide range of vocabulary, particularly in a Year 7 French                  classroom,thus enabling teachersto review the work done in
and Year 8 German class.This is all the more impressivecon-                      the lesson, and students to go through the material again'.
sidering the problemsof access dictionariesand indicesand
                                      to                                         (7986:229)
doessuggestthat thesestudentshave enhanced               memory skills.          However, Corley et al. (7989) warn against the dangers of
Even amongst the older students, they were certainly not self-               over-using tape-recorders the expenseof learning to read and
consciousalthough again comparisonswith a mainstream class                   write,/braille fluently; this must be a particular danger for inte-
are unfair; the youngsters here enjoy additional study-skills                grated blind or partially sighted children sincepractising listen-
lessons,a very high teacher/pupil ratio and the atmosphereis                 ing and speaking skills is less effort for all concerned than
relaxed and intimate.                                                        reading and writing. In contrast to Nikolic, these authors and
    If these good listening and speaking abilities of visually               Dawkins (1991)     believethat most young visually impaired chil-
impaired children could be thought to be of particular use in                dren, integrated or not, suffer a language lag in their mother
language learning, accessto the National Curriculum for                      tongue becauseof their problems with perception. Both Corley
these pupils might seem relatively easy. However, Dawkins                    and Dawkins recommendthat, even in a secondaryschoolclass-
('1991,)  , Corley et aI (7989)and staff at this specialschool empha-        room, thesechildren are seatednext to thoughtful and talkative,
sise the enormous strain intense concentrationplaceson the                  sighted pupils to help enrich their perception of the visual
pupils, regardless the subjectthey study. Fatigue,sheervol-
                        of                                                  world. Although developing vocabulary in a new languageis a
ume of work and the necessityof fitting in an additional cur-               different skill, this strategywould be helpful in languagelessons
riculum specific to these children (for example, typing or                  in which communicationis paramount. Oral work in groups and
brailling skills and mobility training) take their toll and it is           role-playscarry specialsignificancefor visually impaired pupils,
apparently not unusual for Braille users especiallyto fall asleep           placing them in a situation in which they may be on an equal
ln ressons.                                                                 footing with their sighted peers or may benefit themselvesor
                                                                            others from differentiated groupings.
                                                                                Many of the teaching strategies (such as those in a recent
Teoching fourskills
       the                                                                  Avon Inset Day 7994)recommendedto languageteachers any        of
          audio-visual course we have uses filmstrips and flash-            specialneedspupils or indeed all pupils, could be used to effect
   cards, and a large part of the course is teacher centred. The            with blind or partially sightedpupils, suchas:
   blackboard and visual materials are used extensively. It is dif-             * repetition exercises involving a physicalresponse (varying the
   ficult to see how he would function on a par with his peers in           volume, tone and speedof oral work; oral chains;oral Mexican
   this sihration or how we could modifv the course'.'(Corlev               waves as a way of building up phrases;chanting and singing.
   et a\.,1989:'19)                                                         Clearly actions prompted by mime or facial expressionswould
   These recent comments are quoted as typifying the misgivings             probably not be relevant);
of language staff prior to a partially sighted child being consid-              * pre-communicative practice involving actions(Simon says;
ered for transfer to a mainstream comprehensive. A point                    gettingupldown.... I watcheda Year 6 Germangroup at a
frequently emphasised by the authors I eicountered is that no               specialschool doing some of theseactivities,including going to
two visually impaired children have the same needs and where                the door and sitting on the floor. They were hesitantbut, super-
one child may cope simply by sitting next to a sighted friend,              vised, gained extra practice in orientation and mobility);
provided they are not over-dependent, another may need far                      f,communicative    activitiesfor homework involving little or no

Ldnguage Learning ]ourilal No.13, Mdtch 1996
 zuriting(finding and listening to foreign radio stations;talking or           * Pagelayout- rearrangea fragmented layout e.9.,where two
 singing for 10 minutes with an approving signature from                   lists appear side-by-sidewhich would involve slow scanningfor
 parent/guardian; listening again to a tape or recording one's             visually impaired children, Braille/large print them one under
 own.,.                                                                    the other, numbering one list and lettering the other.
    Teleaision brings authentic sounds but also pictures into the              * Variable
                                                                                        prinf - omit unnecessary information when brailling
 classroom.  Because the visual element,this must be a sensitive
                      of                                                   - although this carries the risk highlighted in Widlake's hand-
 issue where blind or partially sighted pupils are concerned.In            book (1989) the teacher'over-editing'material.As with illus-
 general, language teachers of blind children agree that, like             trations, a teacherwould need to ask him/herself what exactly
 books with pictures, theseshould not automatically be rejected.           was being learnt or tested,such as which skills were required for
 In a mainstream classroom,support might again be given by                 scanninga text or interpreting a picture, and whether short-cuts
 peersor the subject/supportteacher.                                       were preferablefor visually impaired pupils. For print-users,the
    Visits abroad were highlighted as a priority for special needs         text may need to be enlarged; where cursive script is used it
 pupils in Barbara Lee's study (1.992),   not only as a means of           should be typed unless the pupil prefers to use CCTV.
 increasingtheir confidencein listening and speakingbut also as               * Text on coloured             -
                                                                                                 backsrounds these should be brailled for
 a meansof motivation for classroomwork. This must be an area              blind children. Dark and.grey backgroundspresentproblems
 in which integration, although laudable in theory, might be dif-          for large print users as they may not photocopy clearly. The
 ficult to achievein practice.WorcesterCollegeruns a successful            teachermay need to type it out unless the pupil has access a  to
 exchange with a school for blind children in Marburg but it               colour CCTV.
 would be interesting to find out how arrangementsmight be                    * Mapsanddiagrams the teachermay need to do somejudicial
 made for a visually impaired child integrated into a mainstream           editing and simplify them for partially sighted pupils. As for
 school.                                                                   flashcards, it is possible to produce the information in tactile
                                                                           form. HIMARK pens or thermoformed (heat-sensitive)paper
                                                                           createraised surfaceson paper but, as Valerie Price points out,
 Reoding writing
       ond                                                                 may be cumbersome. Language staff at the special school I
      I discovered during my visit to a special school just how            visited had experimentedwith thesebut found that pupils did
   demanding learning to read and write in a foreign language              not always respond well to them. Corley et al. ('1989)  comment
   must be for partially sighted and, even more so, for blind              that using these requires a high teacher:pupil ratio to obtain
   students.                                                              maximum benefit which, especiallyin an integrated classroom,
      Braille users in any languagealready face severaldifficulties,      may not be feasible.
   summarised in an article by O'Grady:                                       * Cartoons                  -
                                                                                          and photographs again, these may be omitted or
      'Braille takes an exceedinglylong
                                          time to produce . . . Braille   simplified. Braille descriptions of cartoon stories may be
      takesup about three time more spacethan print and is there-         reinforced by help from a sighted friend or teacherto describe
      fore hard to store and transport, and Braille text can deterio-     facial expressionsetc. Essential information on a photograph
      rate quite fast'. (1.992:37)                                        could be highlighted for partially sighted pupils.
      One of these difficulties, that of production speed, is being           Home-produced worksheets might follow similar principles
   tackled in specialschoolswhich are equipped with a CD-Rom to           to the above, using a clear layout and print/Braille, good
   scan texts and convert print to Braille. However, foreign              photocopies,enhancedoutlines and generousspacing between
   language pupils must in addition master the alphabet of the            words.Widlake's Special    ChildrenHandbook  (1989)points out that
   language being studied. Grade 1 Braille is used for foreign            teachersshould not automatically assumethat partially sighted
   languagesand takesup more spacethan Grade 2. The Braille               pupils need an enlarged text, as, depending on their field of
   symbols used for accented letters in French or umlauts in              vision, they may also require a reduced version.Heavy print if it
   Cerman are representedby singular Braille symbols but these            is double-sided will show through on a CCTV screen.
   samesymbols may be used to representwholly different letters               Modern language dictionariesalso present a challenge for
   or letter combinations in other languages. Hyphens and                 visually impaired pupils. One small, pocket-sized dictionary
i apostrophesin French and capital letters in German nouns can            transcribesinto fifteen hefty volumes of Braille.The language
  be confusing.Braille may also incorporatethe use of contractions        classrooms at the special school had bookshelves stacked,
   to savespaceas thesecombine different letters according to the         museum-like, with big, heavy manuscripts of Braille. The prob-
   language.However, contractionsoften take longer for the reader                          is
                                                                          lem of access no easierfor large print users,consideringthe
   to decipher.                                                           tight, economicallayout of most dictionaries.
     As Nikolic says:                                                         In his report on French teaching at Worcester College, Still
      'Poor reading speed makes it
                                     almost impossible to teach the       commentson the use of vocabulariesin text books and of setting
     rhythm and intonation of the foreign language through the            pupils homeworks of learning meaningful sentences      rather than
     textual approach'. (7986:228)                                        word lists, sinceindividual vocabulary has 'no permanent form
     Both Braillersand print userswith a visual handicapgenerally         for blind students' (1978:2).  The idea of brailling a vocabulary
  recognisewords at a letter level rather than a whole word level         book was rejected, teachers preferring to rely on the pupils'
  becauseof the difficulties they have with skimming and scan-            'powers of memorisation and association'('1,978'2).
  ning. A phonologicalanalysisof languageis slower than a visual              Elsewhere,Valerie Price outlines the process of converting
  analysis and this has consequences the reader's language
                                          for                             Frenchand German dictionariesfor Braille and large print users
  development in terms of spelling, sentenceconstruction and              (1.994b). format of the dictionaries on which sheis currently
  vocabulary. Preparing a text in advance relies on the subject           working is pupil-friendly in that words are arranged side-by-
  teacherbeing sufficiently organised to give the pupil plenty of         side rather than in columns to make for easy tracking and they
  advance warning (Dawson gives successfulexamples of this                include specialistwords for visually impaired pupils. They are
  working in mainstream schools) and on the child having the              availableon disk too so that additionscanbe inserted.
  time and the energy to do so.It is not hard to seehow all of these          Despitethesedevelopingresources,      using a dictionary must
  factors might retard a pupil's acquisition of a foreign language.       be a laborious process and enlisting the help of a sighted
     Valerie Price (1993)presentssome of the problems visually            friend or teacherwhere possible a preferableoption. At the
  impaired children facein modern languageleisons particularly            specialschool,volunteer readersare used, particularly for'A'
  with regard to reading and writing. Modern textbooksaim to be           Level language students.The three students I spoke to used
  visually appealingto pupils and often presenta complicatedlay-          this service but had reservations about its successwhich
  out, variable print, text on coloured backgrounds,detailed maps         depended on the readerseither reading out all the possible
  and diagrams, cartoonsand photographs not always of the best            meaningsof the word - a time-consuming processespeciallyin
  quality. She recommends obtaining the text on disk from the             a public exam - or selecting the correct definition which
  publishersto start the laborious processof adapting,/brailling it.      removed any initiative on the part of the student.Rather than
  In a later article (1,994a) proposesspecificstrategies adapt-
                             she                           in             representinga skill developedby the student,using a diction-
  ing textbooks for both blind and partially sighted children. Her        ary involved a frustrating degree of dependenceon other
  ideasinclude:                                                           people for thesepupils.

 R                                                                                                          Languaqe Learnng lournol No I L Morch 1996
Combining fourskills
        oll                                                               Conclusion
    Many activities in the modern language classroom inevitably              From my research,it appeared that acquiring one or several
 involve more than one Attainment Target. The challenge for visu-         modern languageswas not only appropriate but desirable for
 ally impaired pupils in combining these was made clear to me             visually impaired pupils. Barbara Lee quotes Montgomery in
 during my visit to a special school. Since information which is          her rer:ort:
 available to sighted people at a glance is necessarily communi-
                                                                             'It ii not necessarily curriculum but the pedagogywhich is
 cated more slowly to those with visual handicaps, a straightfor-            the barrier to the participation of children with learning diffi-
ward activity such as a guided role-play involving written                   culties'.(1990:23)
 responses took on different proportions in the special school class-        Lee'sreport really placesthe emphasisin teachinglanguages
 room. A task involving, for instance, filling in diary details accord-   to pupils with special needs at the heart of a communicative
ing to your partner's responses ('Was machst du am Montag um              approachand so could be said to exemplify this methodology in
zwolf Uhr?') relied on a very time-consuming amount of materi-            its purest form. From within that group of 'specialchildren',
als preparation by the teacher. Thus, as this Year 8 group was            those whose main impairment is visual might therefore achieve
made up of both blind and partially sighted pupils, the teacher           the most, given the enhancedaural, concentrationand memory
wrote texts for nartners A and B in both Braille and bold nrint.          skills observedby the authors I studied. Whilst claims that all
Since a transcrioiion of the chart into Braille would have taken up       blind children make good linguists must be over-simplified, I
a good two pag-es, the Braille versions he only included detaili
                       for                                                found enough evidence in my research to suggest that these
of those days and times with activities. Fortunately, the techno-         pupils should not be discouragedfrom learning languages,
logy now exists to photocopy Braille. The tasks for most role-play        particularly consideringthe current communicativeapproach
partners were differentiated, with one Braille user and one large         endorsedby the National Curriculum. Nevertheless,         whether
print user, a combination I observed later also with Year 10s role-                                                     or
                                                                          integratedinto the mainstreamclassroom placedin a special
fhys. My partner, AIex, used a Brailler and, with no visual clues,        school,the challengesvisually impaired children facein gaining
was entirelv dependent on memory for the questions she asked              accessto the whole languages curriculum have been seen to
me. Short of laboriously typing out each answer, she had no               be considerable. They may require a considerable degree of
means of recording information other than in her mind's eye and           support in terms both of human resources         and learning aids.
subsequentlv often asked the same questions.                              This brings one to the conclusion reached in Barbara Lee's
    A gip-fill"list ening comprehension was also time-consuming as        report, that collaborative teaching in a languagesclassroom is
the loud clatter of the Braillers meant that the tape had to be           an ideal to work towards, to benefit specialneedsand indeed all
stopped every time pupils noted down their answei. The writers            schoolchildren.
also were very slow as they had problems in seeing the page.
Older students have the added difficulty of reading questions
whilst listening to a recording or continually scanning back and          References
forth between a written text and the questions which relate to it         Gianetta Corley, Donald Robinson and Steve Lockett (1989).Partially
- and then writing down their answers. The 'A' Level students                Sighted Children,Windsor: NFER Nelson.
spoke of the particular feats of memory involved in doing                 JasmineDawkins (7997).Modelsof Mainstreaming Visually Impaired
                                                                             Pupils,London: HMSO (RNIB).
listening comprehensions for the Oxford and Cambridge syl-                                  (7993).Meeting SpecialNeeds Ordinary Schools:
                                                                          SeamusHegarty                                  in                 An
labus. The extra time they took required a three-hour exam to be
                                                                             Oaerrtian,London: Cassell.
extended to five or six hours.                                                                                        -
                                                                          Barbara Lee (7992).ExtendingOpportunities Modern ForeignLanguages
    One resource which seems to help especially in all four                                       Educational
                                                                             for Pupilswith Special          Naeds, Slough:NFER.
skills by combining several media is information technology.              RossMacdonald (compiler) (1966). Report Special
                                                                                                            A        on                l-anguage
Developing keyboard skills is judged to be very important to                 Courses theBlind,1960-1966,
                                                                                     for                    WashingtonDC: Georgetown.
visuallv impaired children, whose hand to eve coordination is             D. Montgomery (1990). Children with Learning Difficulties, London:
usually affeited by visual loss, as it gives the-m accessto multi-           Cassell.Quoted in BarbaraLee.
media technology. It meets the particular conditions for visually         Tihomir Nikolic (1986). 'Teaching a Foreign Language to Visually
                                                                             Impaired Children in School',Language eaching, 3, 278-31
                                                                                                                     T                    .
impaired children as perceived by Dawkins:
    'In                                                                   Tihomir Nikolic (1987).'Teaching a Foreign Language in Schools for
        making provision to meet communication needs consider-               Blind and Visually Impaired Children',lournal for VisualImpairment
    ation must be given to visual, auditory and tactile media . . . A        and Blindness81, 2, 62-46.
    multi-media approach is certainly likely to be worthwhile in          Notes from Avon Inset Day 1994). MFL for Special  Needs Pupils.
    tackling the complex range of activities involved in a school         Carolyn O'Grady (1992).'BlindAlley Exit' ,TimesEducational Supplement,
    curriculum'. (1.99'l   :277)                                             77.7,31.
                                                                          Valerie Price (1993).'The Teaching of Modern Languagesto Visually
    O'Grady's article describes the use of a CD-Rom combining
tactile and audible media to help blind children across the                  Impaired Children', The British lournal of Visual Impairment,77, 3,
curriculum (1992).The special school has a computer fitted with              179-20.
                                                                          Valerie Price 0994a). 'The Teaching of Modern Languages to the
a voice synthesiser box which recognises English, French and
                                                                             Visually Impaired', CILT Languages  and SEN ProjectBulletin No. 5,
German, with or without the words appearing on the screen.
The synthesiser spells out letters in the selected language as they                             'Modern LanguageDictionaries',Visability,Spring,
                                                                          Vullril" Pri." (1gg4b).
are typed and is also able to read back whole words and
sentences.One drawback is that it reads exactly as it spells and                                 'Foreign Languages',
                                                                          J. M. Rhyne (1981).                         Curriculumfor Teaching the
will therefore include accents,umlauts and punctuation which                  VisuallyImpaired,Springfield, IL: CC. Thomas, 24649.
makes the reading somewhat stilted! At €400-f500 per synthe-              Royal School for the Blind, Liverpool (1966). 'Experiments with the
siser box, it is also unlikely to be affordable by many LEAs.                 Language Laboratory in Schools for the Blind', The Teacher the
    Braille users were judged by special school staff to be notori-           Blind,55, 1,75-20.
                                                                          B. C. Still (1978).  'The Teaching of Modern Languages to Senior
ously bad spellers and this is hardly surprising considering the
                                                                              Students', WorcesterCollegefor the Blind Curriculum Conference,
different alphabets they acquire in their own and foreign                     Worcester,3 pp.
languages for writing both in Braille and through keyboards.              Paul Widlake (ed.) (1990). SpecialChildren Handbook,Cheltenham:
However, Corley's (1989) concern that IT and CCTV may be                     Thornes.
isolating for a child integrated into the mainstream classroom            R. R. Yearley(1978).  'Teaching more ablevisually handicapped
                                                                                                          the                              stu-
may be relieved in a foreign language lesson if the emphasis is               dent at secondarylevel: junior languages:French', Worcester
laid on group or carousel work.                                              for theBlind CurriculumConference,  Worcester,4pp.

Lugilage Learning lournol No. 13, March 1996