The World in a Fingertip

ASW students inquire into the learning process of blind and partially sighted children

On Thursday, August 31st, ASW was visited by two representatives of The Laski Educational Centre for the Blind and Partially Sighted*.

Mrs. Maria Roguska, the coordinator of Center's Volunteering Department, along with Mrs. Dorota Niedbala, the educator and educational tools designer, met with Mr. Miele's 8th grade design class.

The students learned about the Center's history (operational since 1911), its structure, and about the learning process for blind students. They also learned how advancements in medical science, alternative therapies, and educational tools are helping the school's blind children adapt better to their environments, as well as prolonging the lives of children with severe disabilities.

Students at the Laski Center range in age from very early childhood up to 24 years old. The Center's main goals are to increase, as much as possible, the students' ability to live independent lives, to teach them the Braille writing system, and to help them get a full, professional education.

During the class Mrs. Niedbala also presented a selection of educational tools for the blind. She talked to our 8th graders about the concepts behind the design of these tools, which included various objects, puzzle-like games and activities aimed at promoting and improving finger dexterity, flexibility and strength. These tools were built mainly from recycled materials (ex. PET caps, old pieces of fabric.). Mrs. Niedbala also talked about the importance of textures when designing these tools; some blind students prefer soft surfaces, while others prefer rough ones. Another goal of the learning process is to increase the student's tolerance to various surfaces.

At the end of the session, Mrs. Roguska and Mrs. Niedbala asked our students to help repair, build anew, or even design their own educational tools for the blind and visually impaired students. The 8th graders' task is now to come up with useful designs that can help the blind in discovering the universe through their fingertips.

* By partially sighted we mean children whose eyesight is severely impaired but they are not completely blind. They cannot read normal size (12-14-16) text or in more severe cases they are able to see nothing but some colors - yellow for example is one of the colors that they might perceive, and this is why the pavements for the visually impaired people are often yellow.

By Teodor Ajder

Service Learning Department

Read more about our Service Learning program