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ESL MiniConference Online!

Giving Visually Impaired ESL Students Greater Access
Braille Converters Invaluable, Says Lorna Joy Swain

Recently on the TESL-L listserv, there was a query posted regarding ideas and innovations for teaching English to visually impaired ESL students. Lorna Joy Swain, of Contra Costa College, in California, has graciously agreed to share with the readers of the ESL MiniConference Online the suggestions she offered in response to this question. (See also a related article on Post-It Index Tabs)

ESL teachers who are working with blind or partially sighted students should contact their campus "Disabled Students Services" or similar campus organization if one exists. At the College of Alameda (California) our DSPS group can provide equipment for a sighted person to use to type in text and have it converted to braille. They may even provide the conversion service for the teacher; I'm not sure. They also have a tremendously nifty thermal machine that works like a photocopier, but what it produces is a page that has the original information raised. By using this machine, a teacher could produce, for example, a map or diagram that the blind or visually impaired student could "read" by touch.

Teachers can also contact local associations for the blind to see what services they offer. Here is one: (British Computer Association of the Blind)
Check out the "Links to Useful Web Resources". It takes you to links about assistive technology and transcription services, as well as others topics of interest.

Try doing a web search on "blind" "association" and your particular country or nationality (American, British, UK, Canadian, Malasian, etc.) Also, some of these associations have an interest in serving low literacy or minority language speakers, and they might be able to help in an ESL situation.

Good luck to all!

Comment by Lorna Joy Swain
Contra Costa College

2002 ESL MiniConference Online