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New online course prioritises learners with vision disabilities

girl learning online

The University of Cape Town (UCT) has added a new massive open online course to its portfolio of short courses to help educators who lack the skill sets to teach children with disabilities. The course will, among other things, enable teachers to nurture the intellectual and emotional well-being of these learners. 

Tailored towards school-level educators, Teaching Children with Visual Impairment: Creating Empowering Classrooms offers teachers the insight they need to create classroom environments that accommodate the learning needs of children with vision disabilities. It aims to encourage moving away from segregated schooling towards a more inclusive and integrated approach to learning. This approach provides both teachers and learners with an opportunity to understand what it takes to teach and learn in this environment and in turn overcome the hurdles of the past.

Senior research officer, and course convenor for UCT’s Disability Studies programme, Dr Brian Watermeyer, said the MOOC adopts a “first-person” experience and has been designed with both the learner with a vision disability and the teacher in mind.

According to Watermeyer, South Africa faces a “crisis” when it comes to educating learners with disabilities.

“We are in an era of moving towards inclusive education.”

He said a whopping 600000 children with disabilities are not part of a formal schooling programme and there has long been need for an “urgent” intervention. He said the course’s primary goal is to “demystify” visual disabilities by illustrating that the needs of individuals with vision disabilities are no different from those of able-bodied individuals.

“We are in an era of moving towards inclusive education. Teachers urgently need to be equipped with the skills to ensure a meaningful education for learners with vision disabilities.”

 

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