Blind World Magazine

Northern Ireland.
Action call over the plight of blind pupils.

February 7, 2006.
Belfast Telegraph - United Kingdom.

Action must be taken to improve the school experience for hundreds of children in Northern Ireland who are blind or partially sighted, a leading charity said today.

New research carried out by the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB) Northern Ireland provides a grim picture of the daily difficulties faced by children with sight loss in mainstream schools across the province.

A shortage of text books in large print or digital CD format and the lack of vital specialist equipment for young people are just some of the survey's findings.

The charity's children and family services manager Barry Macauley said that many children with sight loss have "quite negative experiences" in Ulster schools.

He hopes that new SENDO legislation - which strengthens the right of children with special educational needs to attend mainstream schools and insists schools must make "reasonable adjustments" for their needs -will begin to make a difference to pupils with sight difficulties.

"There are some schools that have the equipment and include children with sight loss very well but many do not," he said.

The charity is pushing for teacher training in visual awareness, text books to be in the appropriate format for pupils with sight loss and for children to be provided with the equipment they need and trained in its use.

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