Blind & Visually Impaired children left stranded by DES in Covid Lockdown

Parents of Visually Impaired Students Angry at Visiting Teacher Performance & NCSE inaction During School Closure

28th June 2020: A new survey of parents of visually impaired students found that 58% have received no contact from their assigned Visiting Teacher to discuss their home schooling needs.

The survey organised by Féach, a voluntary organisation to support parents of visually impaired & blind children, also found that 49% have not received any adapted school materials from their school.

Aoife Kearney head of Féach said

“There has been no guidance from the Department of Education and Science on the provision of resource teaching remotely. Our children have lost months of the weekly 1:1 teaching they normally receive during resource hours. The additional skills they need such as Braille and Assistive Technology have not been addressed. The National Council for Special Education,who oversee the Visiting Teacher service for Visually Impaired students, have issued no guidelines for the role of Visiting Teachers under remote learning conditions”

Further survey results reveal:

  • Of the parents who have been contacted, 66% said it was by email only
  • 35% of parents felt that the contact they had received from their class teacher was insufficient
  • 68% say that their Visually Impaired child is struggling more than their non-visually impaired sibling
  • Nearly 50% of parents say that their Visually Impaired child is struggling academically & emotionally since schools closed.

Aoife continues

“Our survey reveals that remote learning is not working well for a large number of students who are blind/visually impaired. Most parents do not have the specialised knowledge of Braille or assistive technology to help their children. Many teachers seem not to have considered the unique access needs of their blind/visually impaired student when setting work for home”

Coupled with this is the limitations of the DES Summer Education program. This was extended to blind and VI students in primary school, but not to those in post primary students. This decision is “baffling” head of advocacy Eithne Walsh said. Educational demands increase not decrease as blind/vi students move into post primary school. “Yet they are completely abandoned”.

A full report on the survey findings is available on request.

For more information contact:
Eithne Walsh – Head of Advocacy Féach
087 9880518