Evaluation of a training programme to increase teachers’ awareness of visual problems in the classroom and how to address them

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Background: Evidence suggests that children with visual impairment are at a disadvantage to their visual normally peers with regards to educational achievement. Teachers receive limited training in paediatric health disorders, particularly relating to the eyes and visual system. This study aimed to evaluate a programme providing teachers with an overview of visual problems in children and how to identify and address these difficulties in the classroom. Methods: Two groups of teachers (in-training n=42 and qualified n=9) attended a lecture and workshop outlining common visual problems in children. The workshop, simulated a range of visual difficulties allowing teachers to gain an insight into how visual impairment may impact on learning. Formal feedback was invited using a questionnaire employing both open and closed questions. Closed questions were graded using a 5-point Likert grading scale. Questions related to each individuals’ level of knowledge of ‘common causes of visual impairment’, ‘professionals involved in eyecare’ and ‘how to address visual problems in the classroom’ before and after participating in the session. Results: Seventeen questionnaires were returned from the teachers in-training and eight from qualified teachers. Non-parametric analyses were applied. In both groups, a significant improvement in knowledge was obtained for all three areas (p<0.05). Open comments were positive and related to gaining an insight into the learning experiences for children with visual problems and how to overcome potential barriers as a result of visual impairment. Conclusions: This novel initiative demonstrated an improvement in teachers’ awareness of how visual problems impact on classroom behaviour and learning. Acknowledgements: The authors would like to acknowledge the Learning Landscapes Project (Ulster University) and the Centre for Flexible and Continuing Education, Ulster University, who provided funding for Phase 3 of the study. The authors would also like to thank Shelley Black, Emma McConnell and Ulster University final year Optometry students (Leah Gavin, Leanne Ellison, Michaela Magee, Rachel Herbison and Rebecca Emerson) who helped with the workshops.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChild Vision Research Society Conference Report
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 19 Jun 2017


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