Our study into education for blind and vision impaired children

Monday, 28 October 2013 10:50am

Media Access Australia has today released a landmark study into how the access needs of blind and vision impaired students can be met in Australian schools. Launched at the Blind Citizens Australia convention yesterday, it is hoped that the study informs how new technologies and systems are adopted.

While there is no official statistic for the number of blind and vision impaired children in Australia, a reasonable estimate is 4,000. The vast majority of these school age children attend mainstream schools.

The study explores how the challenge of providing access to media and technology for blind and vision impaired students is met across the public, Catholic and independent sectors. The study draws on interviews with mainstream and specialist teachers and service providers.

The report is a comprehensive review of how access is currently provided. Solutions range from large print text books to using pipe cleaners to mould into tactile diagrams. The report’s five expert authors then scope how mainstream technologies such as tablet computers could be used to improve learning outcomes.

The report identifies a number of factors inhibiting access to learning for students who are blind and vision impaired. These include:

  • Existing structures hindering knowledge sharing between schools, sectors and states
  • A lack of opportunities for coordination to prevent duplication of resources
  • Copyright issues affecting the availability of texts in alternative formats
  • A lack of information to help educators and education departments to adapt to technological change

Media Access Australia has a long history of work in Deaf and hearing impaired education which places us in a position to offer independent evidence based advice.

CEO and co-author Alex Varley said, “This report offers a bird’s eye view of how technology and information access are currently being provided across the country and across sectors. From this vantage point we can see the common challenges and identify practical solutions which could be adopted to improve services.”

 Download the report:

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