Factors affecting braille competency among learners with total loss of vision in Kenya
Njue, Wanja Serah
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This research was a study of factors affecting Braille competency among lower primary and pre school pupils with total loss of vision in Kenya. The study Is conducted in two out of the six primary schools for learners with visual impairments in Kenya namely, Thika School for the Visually Impaired and St Lucy School for the Visually Impaired. The two schools chosen were distinguished by their varying geographical locations as well as their history which ranked them among the oldest in the country. The two schools were also among the three largest schools for learners with visual impairments, the third being Likoni school in Coast province. The objectives of the study were to establish the academic level and professional qualifications of teachers of Braille, identify the resources and facilities available for teaching Braille to young beginners, establish the methods used in teaching Braille and establish whether reading rediness skills were taught to beginners. A survey research design was used. Three types of instruments were used for data collection. Those were two sets of questionnaires one set for head teachers and the other one for teachers who taught Braille. Both sets had own and closed ended items. Interview schedules and observation guides were also used to supplement the questionnaires. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics, blowing text-based themes. Key findings of the study showed that furniture used by learners with visual impairments was not appropriate, secondly, there was no Braille, proficiency policy, Braille equipment and materials used by those learners were both inappropriate and inadequate and there was a high teacher-pupil ratio which affected performance. Pre reading skills were also not taught to beginners. It was expected the:, the results obtained from the study would benefit institutions training teachers of earners with visual impairments and the government of Kenya in terms of making policies on the education of learners with total loss of vision. From the findings, the study recommended that the government came up with Braille proficiency policy, teacher-learner ratio was reduced to 1:5 at most, adequate and appropriate furniture was availed to those, schools and reading readiness skills were taught to beginners. Fewer materials available in Braille disadvantaged those learners using it and that could significantly affect their progress in achievement. Continuous learning opportunities were essential for personnel who gave direct services in Braille literacy. The study further recommended that a study be done on teaching of Braille to newly blinded adults and also focus on effects of Free Primary Education (FPE) on Special Needs Education (SNE).