Assessment of Teachers’ Preparedness to Teach Learners with Visual Impairments in Regular Universal Primary Education (UPE) Schools
Niyisabwa, Odette Tumwesigye
Muthee, Jessina M.
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Teachers in Uganda have the obligation to give quality Education to all the learners in their classrooms including those with visual impairments. The preparedness of teachers to teach learners with visual impairments in regular UPE schools in South Western Uganda was examined. The study was conducted in seven districts within South Western Uganda. The objectives of the study were to establish the Braille skills possessed by teachers, and to determine the availability of adapted materials, equipment and devices for LVI. The study adapted the theory of Ribot and Peluso (2003) which deals with all possible means by which a person is able to benefit from things, and it was supplemented by the theory of Sherrill (2008) which deals with strategies to enable a person achieve the stipulated rights. The target population was learners with visual impairments (LVI) from established integrated schools and from regular UPE schools, Teachers of LVI from established integrated schools and from regular UPE schools, head teachers from established integrated and regular UPE schools, plus inspectors of schools incharge od Special Needs Education. This paper presents findings obtained through a mixed method research design involving both qualitative and quantitative descriptive methods with a sample of 147 respondents. Raw data was obtained through questionnaires, interviews, observation and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs). Data obtained from close – ended items of the questionnaire were analyzed quantitatively, while data obtained from open ended items were analyzed qualitatively. Data collected using interview, observation and FGD was coded, quantified, categorized and analyzed following the themes derived from the research objectives. Findings were presented using descriptive methods. The main findings were that teachers of LVI in regular UPE schools generally lacked Braille skills, and even those from established integrated schools who possessed some Braille skills lacked skills in full mathematics Braille notation. Findings also revealed that regular UPE schools generally lacked optical devices, and the only adapted materials that were available were contrast enhanced chalkboards. Overall, the teachers in regular UPE schools generally lacked preparedness to teach LVI. The study recommends a full Braille course for teachers of LVI in regular UPE schools; and refresher courses in Full mathematics Braille notation for teachers in established integrated schools. The study also recommended local production of styluses, Abaci and shapes for LVI at low or no cost. This finding implied a need to guarantee specialized training to teachers of LVI, which would only be achieved through the provision of financial resources to support their preparedness.