Author Topic: Teaching the blind  (Read 3410 times)

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Teaching the blind
« on: January 07, 2016, 07:40:27 pm »
I have a new challenge starting next week: I will have a 6/7 year old in one of my classes who is totally blind. I have seen the kiddie being led around the school - he appears to have a 1:1 LSA - and it appears that he has no pupils, or if he does his corneas are opaque and white. I am sure he has been blind from birth.

Given that the organisation I am working for is Chess in Schools & Communities, a charity whose entire purpose is to offer chess to the disadvantaged, it's really important that they offer equal opportunities. Yesterday I contacted Malcolm Pein, the top man in the charity, and he has authorised the purchase of a Braille set. Hitherto, no-one else working for the charity has had a blind child to teach. Hopefully the set will arrive tomorrow and I will be able to make friends with it.



The black pieces have a little point on the top and the white squares are recessed. I think I shall have to prepare a crib sheet for his LSA so that she can play with him when the opportunity arises.

I think this is going to be a very interesting challenge...
Eating's a serious business. Don't bollocks around wagging your tail.

Re: Teaching the blind
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2016, 07:45:13 pm »
I'd be fascinated to hear the progress, learning chess from scratch when blind would seem to me to be a monumental challenge. Good luck, hope you both enjoy the process.

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: Teaching the blind
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2016, 07:52:06 pm »
Yes, we explain so much stuff visually. Yesterday I had another group from the same couple of year 2 classes, almost all of them learning from scratch. Words like "diagonal", "rank", "file" and "parallel" were all new to the group, and it seem to me to be such visual concepts that it's going to be hard to explain them to him. Yesterday I just pointed to the door and explained its parallel properties. How can anyone who has been blind all their lives have the same sort of concept of space as sighted people do?
Eating's a serious business. Don't bollocks around wagging your tail.

L Hedley

  • "Bring it on"
Re: Teaching the blind
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2016, 09:03:05 pm »
I work with the blind. I recently adapted a sudoku board for him. It was a great success.
I am assuming he is a braillist! And that his LSA is also.
Not just a cyclist's wife!

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Teaching the blind
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2016, 10:26:33 pm »
I am assuming he is a braillist! And that his LSA is also.

I suspect Wowbagger may be assuming that also...

Not that it looks like any actual Braille skills are required to use a tactile chess set.

(In a world of ubiquitous recording devices and speaking computers, Braille is less vital than it once was, and many blind people seem to prefer audio and might only have the Braille skills to read the odd label.  I expect, like with sign language, there's an inverse correlation with mainstream education.)
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Teaching the blind
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2016, 10:32:22 pm »
Yes, we explain so much stuff visually. Yesterday I had another group from the same couple of year 2 classes, almost all of them learning from scratch. Words like "diagonal", "rank", "file" and "parallel" were all new to the group, and it seem to me to be such visual concepts that it's going to be hard to explain them to him. Yesterday I just pointed to the door and explained its parallel properties. How can anyone who has been blind all their lives have the same sort of concept of space as sighted people do?

I think there's a big difference between visual and spacial.  I doubt a blind person will have trouble understanding the geometric properties of a door, though its colour may well be academic to them.  The problem comes with using visual methods to teach spatial concepts.  Drawing on the board isn't going to do much good...

I wouldn't be surprised if they have more experience of verbalising spatial concepts than their sighted peers, particularly at that age, through using a sighted guide.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

barakta

  • Bastard lovechild of Yomiko Readman and Johnny 5
Re: Teaching the blind
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2016, 08:40:53 am »
Hi,

The tactile chess set is a good start.  I agree with others that you can't be sure what the child's communication and sight needs are until you ask him, I would be inclined to try and get some 1:1 time with the child + LSA to introduce yourself, say you very much want to welcome child to your class and ask if he's OK to talk to you a little about how he learns things as you haven't worked with a blind player before. Explain it might take a little while for you and him to work one another out and compatible methods but keep being positive about believing you can do it. One of the biggest issues is other people's fears of your access needs, being asked "how can I include you" is one of the best things a teacher can as a disabled person.  It keeps your door open for feedback and improvement.  You may also find the methods you use with this child help others who benefit from x2 or more methods.

Visual concepts such as diagonals etc might not be as hard as you think.  I wonder how the LSA maps current visual stuff for him, it is worth asking.  There is a product called German Film http://shop.rnib.org.uk/braille/braille-embossing/plastic-embossing-film-27cm-x-34cm.html which you can use any pointy object to score tactile drawings into. You may be able to make tactile things another way, and creating a protocol where you create tactile diagrams of a chessboard where white squares are null and black ones are fuzzed/embossed slightly in some way (maybe?) and then overlay that with whatever you are trying to demonstrate in some visual way - blu-tacked markers which could just be 'counters' which have braille for which item they are, or might be the actual chess pieces. Again, talk to student and LSA, if you involve them in whatever you devise you can trial and error things. 

I am noticing that small blind children in mainstream are increasingly taught Braille from a young age by a teacher of the visually impaired so the child may well be a braillist to some degree but at 6/7 he may not have the "reading skills" yet of a sighted child of the same age, it depends. Ask.  Ask how he likes to learn, ask what his current hobbies are as that will give you an idea of stuff. One of my blind students likes hiking and mountaineering much to the FEAR of some sighted folk, but it fits with their character and independence. I know another blind person who was never given opportunities or encouraged to do stuff that "might be seen as difficult" for blind folk and that shows in his struggles to do things.

I know from working with two blind people at daily contact that at first describing things one would normally point and expect someone to see is very hard at first, the trick is to keep trying and it gets easier. I got frustrated with how some people gave up cos it seemed too hard when even an attempt is often appreciated and it is a useful skill to be able to say "your chair is 3 steps to your errr *crosshands dyslexia trick* left" and so on. It's OK to take some time to compose your thoughts. 

Good luck and let us know how you get on.



Some links I found online:
http://www.braillechess.com/ - 1997 wants its websites back!

https://www.quora.com/How-can-one-teach-chess-to-a-visually-impaired-person - possible verbal strategies.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-KcxNCTE3s Chess at a school for the blind.

http://www.thebetterindia.com/17746/blind-visually-impaired-chess-player-india-milaap-mohammed-salih/ Case study of blind player.

fruitcake

  • some kind of fruitcake
    • Bailey
Re: Teaching the blind
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2016, 10:55:21 am »
Cool project and an interesting challenge.

The chances are, you'll be impressed at how well this child does, just because children are very efficient learners compared with adults.

Two pieces of advice which are related to each other: (1) make him laugh and (2) have a laugh yourself. Make these some of the first things you do. Everybody will relax.

When it comes to the procedural stuff involved in running a session, (including where to sit, what's on the table, who's entered the room, who's speaking to whom) replace the missing visual information with commentary. Include in your commentary what you're doing and what's going to happen next, to reduce stress and build trust.

When describing the pieces, let the child do the work. He's much more likely to remember something he has had to work at describing. Your role will be prompting him to improve and refine his descriptions. You might be reading this asking, 'how can he describe things he can't see?' Well, he 'sees' with his hands, and seeing via the sense of touch takes longer, so allow him time to look each time you ask him a question. In addition to that, I guess he'll need a chunk of time near the start of the session to look at the tactile chess board and the pieces, so you'll want to incorporate that in your session plan.

When it comes to teaching the moves, I reckon you could use the chess board directly. It will be possible to feel parallel lines on a tactile board such as the one in your photo. Same for diagonal lines.

And on the fact that you're new to this, remember: children love it when they realise that you're learning too. They feel safe when you take responsibilty for stuff that goes wrong, and they immediately forgive you when you apologise for a mistake, allowing you to move swiftly on.

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: Teaching the blind
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2016, 03:23:44 pm »
I just posted about this on FB and Nigel Short was the 3rd person to comment.
Eating's a serious business. Don't bollocks around wagging your tail.

clarion

  • Tyke
Re: Teaching the blind
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2016, 03:30:43 pm »
I just posted about this on FB and Nigel Short was the 3rd person to comment.
A modern beat combo, m'lud? ;)
Getting there...

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: Teaching the blind
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2016, 10:47:49 pm »
I just posted about this on FB and Nigel Short was the 3rd person to comment.
A modern beat combo, m'lud? ;)

Nosher (Nosher L. Git (anag) - geddit??) was indeed in his own rather obscure beat combo in his youth, yclept "Pelvic Thrust", I believe.

Reference
Eating's a serious business. Don't bollocks around wagging your tail.