Hello! Happy September!
Well. We are officially post-Labor Day, which means time to get busy, get involved, get excited, and get to know your students!
I am editing this posting and forgot to introduce myself, as I am not Dr. Lisa Dieker. My name is Kimberly (Kim) Pawling. I am one of the second-year Ph.D. students in Exceptional Education at the University of Central Florida under the leadership of Dr. Dieker and other UCF Faculty.
So, who am I? In short, I am an ACVREP Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist as well as an ACVREP Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist. I also have a Florida Professional Teaching license in Exceptional Education: varying exceptionalities (ESE:VE K-12) and English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL K-12). I have a Masters in Visual Impairments: orientation & mobility and rehabilitation therapy from Florida State University (2001). I have a Bachelors and Masters in Special Education: learning disabilities & emotional disorders from Florida State University (1998). I have taught high school students with learning disabilties, behavioral disorders, moderate cognitive impairments, ADHD, and combinations of the above disabilities. I was the Dean of Students overseeing disciplinary decisions, actions, and procedures for students with disabilities in a high school. I also taught adolescents and adults with visual impairments, both orientation & mobility and rehabilitation therapy.
So what is the purpose of this blog post? To get you to think about how you would experience the curriculum or activities in your classroom if you had difficulty hearing and/or seeing. When you think about your instruction and daily activities with that challenge in mind, or better yet, you put ear plugs in your ears and/or dirty glasses on your face, you will be well prepared to assist the students with vision or hearing loss in your classroom.
Teaching students with sensory impairments can be challenging for both you and the student. Sensory impairments are rarely “all or nothing”; rather, sensory impairments include a wide range of abilities. Additionally, multiple internal and environmental events change and affect the student’s sensory skills daily, just like for you and me.
Most individuals who do not have a sensory impairment take the “little” things for granted. But often, the “little” things create the largest social, emotional, and academic barriers for students with hearing and/or vision loss:
1. Where is my seat? Did you rearrange the room for an activity?
2. The class is very loud during group work; I cannot figure out what my group or my teacher is saying.
3. The restroom I normally use is locked; the only other restroom I know of is in the nurse’s office.
4. I hate playing “popcorn” during read aloud. I often do not hear my name.
5. Help?! I can’t find my class?! . . . on the chalkboard, a note: “Meet me at the library”.
6. We have a test today? I thought it was tomorrow? . . . Since Monday, I had that information on the board.
7. Help?! I can’t find my class! . . . I told everyone yesterday before the bell rang (when the class is noisy) that we would meet by the cafeteria.
8. I do not like to stand up in front of the class. My speech is slow, and many times students giggle when I talk.
9. I don’t like playing team sports in physical education. I am a good athlete, but I end up being hit by the ball often because I cannot discern when my teammate calls my name to accept a pass.
10. I do not buy my lunch. The cafeteria staff merely hands me a tray with food on it, but I don’t know what is where, and I have a difficult time finding my seat when I am trying to balance a tray of food.
My challenge to you? Go ahead and try it! Put ear plugs in your ears and watch television. Put dirty glasses, a blindfold, etc., over your eyes and watch television or try to write your name on a piece of paper. If you are truly brave, go the mall or a loud restaurant with ear plugs in or wearing dirty/dark glasses and experience what the school cafeteria might sound and feel like. If you take the challenge, please blog back and let everyone know about your experience!