3.1 Structure of Curriculum

The curriculum designed for ordinary children is generally appropriate for visually impaired children. However, some adaptations to the learning materials and the teaching approaches have to be made so that the learning needs of visually impaired children can be met. The curriculum should be balanced with due consideration given to the children's intellectual, personal, emotional and social developments. To teach visually impaired children, the teacher should adopt a consistent, realistic and flexible approach in curriculum planning and implementation. This chapter will discuss possible adaptations to the curriculum, taking into account the children's visual impairment, their abilities and learning needs.


3.2 Adaptations to the Curriculum for Totally Blind and Severe Low Vision Children

3.2.1 Chinese Language

Following are some suggestions geared to the needs of the pupil:

(1) Learning Cantonese Braille

Chinese Language is a basic subject in the school curriculum. Instead of learning Chinese characters, totally blind and severe low vision children are taught to read and write Cantonese Braille as their medium of learning.

Cantonese Braille is formed by three braille cells:
an initial particle,
a final particle, and sometimes
a tone mark
. The children should be encouraged to learn Cantonese Braille as early as possible. First, a Cantonese tone training programme is given to help the children develop their basic reading skills, then they are taught to read and write Cantonese Braille in association with words which they come across in textbooks.

(2) Other Ways to Help Learning Children Language

Textbooks and supplementary learning materials can be transcribed into braille. Various language activities such as story-telling, singing, role-play, etc. can be used to reinforce the children's language skills and to improve their understanding of the language.

Great emphasis should be put on the explanation of synonyms and the homophones. In introducing new vocabulary and language items, more explanation or experience sharing is required as visually impaired children have little actual experience. The teacher should also introduce the knowledge of the radicals of Chinese characters to the children. They may also learn to sign their names.

In composition, it is advisable to provide the children with more organized activities such as visits, picnics, debates, radio plays, drama and interviews so that these concrete experiences can help to enrich the content of their composition. For picture-guided composition, verbal clues and descriptions of pictures in braille are also of great help.


3.2.2 Putonghua

Following are some suggestions geared to the needs of the pupil:

(1) Learning Putonghua braille

Putonghua is also offered as a subject in special schools for visually impaired children to enable the children to speak and understand the language. The children learn Putonghua by the aural-oral approach. They also learn the written Putonghua braille, which involves distinguishing between the initial particles, the final particles and the tone marks, based on the Chinese romanised transcription system.

(2) Good Language Models

The teacher should give good language models. By using various learning activities, such as phonetic games, passage reading, sentence making, dialogue practice, report writing, discussions and audio recording, the children's interest can be stimulated. Emphasis should be placed not only on speaking but also on reading and writing in Putonghua braille.


3.2.3 English Language

English is widely used as a medium of instruction in secondary schools. As some visually impaired children are capable of receiving senior secondary education in ordinary schools, English will be a medium of learning to them and will also be a prerequisite for their future studies.

Following are some suggestions geared to the needs of the pupil:

(1) Adaptations To Textbooks

To help the children learn English, the teacher has to make adaptations to textbooks, where required, to suit braille-users, e.g. using written descriptions instead of picture cues; using Chinese illustrations where necessary; transcribing reading materials into braille, etc. In addition, teaching aids such as real objects, tactile diagrams, talking cards, cassette tapes, etc. may also be used.

(2) Learning English Braille

English Braille is a medium of learning to totally blind and severe low vision children. It represents the letters of the alphabet, part of the word signs, contractions, short-form words and whole words.

At the junior primary level, the children start to learn single-cell word signs, simple dual-cell word signs, contractions, abbreviations and punctuation marks which are generally encountered in textbooks. At the upper primary level, the children learn more complicated two-cell contractions, abbreviations and punctuation marks. At the secondary level, they will have acquired the skills of reading and writing Braille.

English Braille users should pay more attention to spelling in English as this is particularly useful for typing.


3.2.4 Mathematics

Mathematics is an important subject in the curriculum

Following are some suggestions geared to the needs of the pupil:

(1) First-hand Experience

In learning Mathematics, totally blind and severe low vision children need first-hand experience because they lack visual stimulation related to the development of mathematical concepts such as size, shape, colour, etc. The teacher needs to adapt the learning materials and give examples appropriate to the children's levels of understanding. The mathematical language and terms used should be consistent.

To teach mathematical concepts, the teacher needs to train the children's tactile skills by using teaching aids such as toys, counting apparatus, embossed pictures and diagrams, etc. Learning materials which provide the children with opportunities to touch and count are necessary to help them acquire mathematical concepts. Learning activities used in Mathematics lessons should be closely related to the children's daily life experiences.

(2) Use of Special Aids

Mathematics Braille should be introduced for mathematical computation. To provide for practice in the skills of computation, plastic cubes of braille numerals can be a useful tool for basic number work in junior primary classes. When calculation becomes too long or too complicated, calculation frames such as Taylor Board and abacuses can be used in senior primary classes. The children can also be taught to use talking calculators, which simplify operation involving complicated calculations.

In teaching Geometry, statistics and graphs, embossed diagrams should be used. The teacher should ensure that embossed diagrams have been simplified without compromising accuracy.


3.2.5 General Studies, EPA and History

These subjects help to improve the children's understanding of the Hong Kong community and historical events. In primary schools, General Studies is offered and in secondary schools EPA and History are taught.

Following are some suggestions geared to the needs of the pupil:

(1) Suitable Adaptation To Map

To teach these subjects, learning materials have to be prepared in braille copies and embossed braille maps or pictures should be used. The teacher should simplify the important items depicted from original maps or use separate maps to show different items.

(2) Use Real Objects or Models

Teacher should use models or real objects to reinforce the children's learning.

(3) Arrange Activities

Activities such as visits to satellite towns, exhibitions and museums, quiz and model-making would help to promote the children's interest, enrich their experience and arouse their social awareness. The teacher should also make use of community resources such as large posters available from Government departments or other agencies to teach related topics.


3.2.6 Biology

Biology helps the children to understand the growth and development of the human body and makes them better aware of the natural environment.

Following are some suggestions geared to the needs of the pupil:

(1) Use of Senses of Hearing, Touch and Smell

By using their senses of hearing, touch and smell, the children's curiosity in the natural environment can be stimulated.

(2) Use of Suitable Teaching Aids

Real objects, living things, models and diagrams can be used to develop the children's power of observation and understanding of concepts.

(3) Arrange Activities

Active participation in visits, excursions, rambles and data-collection not only helps to stimulate the children's interest to learn, but also develops in them an enquiring mind and a positive attitude towards nature. However, special safety precautions have to be taken in practical work and outdoor visits.


3.2.7 Computer Literacy

When using the computer, visually impaired children have problems in perceiving visual displays on the screen and the text of a hard copy in ink-print. They may also have difficulties in keying data into the computer. To help the children cope with these problems, adaptations to the syllabus for Computer Literacy is necessary. Additional time is required to teach the keyboard skills and operations of special adaptive devices in order to get access to computers.

Basically a greater part of the syllabus for Computer Literacy for ordinary schools can be followed. However, some areas in the curriculum may have to be modified to strengthen practical skills in the use of the computer and special adaptive devices with emphasis on the following areas:

(1) Training in keyboard skills with manual typewriters before computer operation

Typing is introduced here as a means to master basic keyboard skills with certain degree of accuracy rather than speed. Besides basic keyboard skills, correction of typing errors and simple formatting should be emphasized.

(2) Training in the operation of computer access devices

The training is most important in that it gives visually impaired children access to the computer. The children have to acquire the following skills in order to operate the computer: screen review skills in braille or in visual enlargement,
skills with a braille printer and the use of optical character recognition techniques for transformation. Since they have different degrees of vision, the children have to be trained to use one, or more, of the following special adaptive devices before they can manipulate the different processes of a computer system:

Screen enlargement devices or software for low vision children - e.g. VISTA, ZOOMTEXT, LUNA and MAGIC etc.

(b) Voice synthesizers for totally blind and severe low vision children - e.g. DECTALK, ECHO GP, ARTIC VISION, SYNPHONIX, KEYNOTE GOLD etc.
(c) Braille displays of computers for totally blind and severe low vision children - e.g. ALVA, BRAILLEX, NAVIGATOR, and POWERBRAILLE etc..

(3) Learning of programming skills with tactile graphics

The biggest drawback in computer access technology for totally blind and severe low vision children lies in their difficulties in gaining access to the graphics displayed on the computer screen. The current practice is to transform indirectly video graphics to tactile graphics on a braille printer with appropriate computer graphic programmes. Since programming with LOGO language involves quite a lot of graphics with reference to spatial relationship and orientation, which are abstract to visually impaired children, this part of the curriculum should be cut short and should only be briefly introduced. Basic programming skills with other computer languages like BASIC are preferable to LOGO for totally blind and severe low vision children.

(4) Exposure to a variety of computer applications

To help visually impaired children integrate into society, it is essential to expose them to some commonly used computer applications such as word processing, spreadsheet, database management, Internet browsing & Email communications, desktop publishing and digital music compositions and productions etc.

(5) Emphasis on the learning of word-processing

This can be taken as a rehabilitation aid for written communication with sighted people and is also necessary for the children's studies. Although it is easier for Braille users to use specially designed word processing programs, they should also be familiar with other conventional and popular ones. This will facilitate their total integration into society in future.

3.2.8 Music

Through playing musical instruments, singing, listening and creative activities, the children may experience enjoyment and satisfaction in music. A sense of rhythm can also be developed through movements to music, which strengthen the children's body awareness and spatial concept.

Following are some suggestions geared to the needs of the pupil:

(1) Listening Activities

To develop aural awareness and musical perception in the children, listening activities such as identifying and comparing environmental and musical sounds, recognizing the tone colour of instruments, differentiating the timbre of the voice, distinguishing rhythm and pitch, etc. can be used.

(2) Use of Braille

It is important to develop the ability to listen with concentration, which may enhance aural memory in music reading. Sight singing and other learning materials can also be transcribed into braille.

(3) Singing demonstrate

The teacher may use his own voice to demonstrate accurate and natural voice production as well as good models of singing.


3.2.9 Art & Craft

Art & Craft is offered in primary schools. The areas of work chosen for the children are mainly print-making, collage, three-dimensional work and art appreciation. Tactile drawing should also be included.

Following are some suggestions geared to the needs of the pupil:

(1) Art Appreciation

The teacher should help the children to touch and describe the art work and discuss with them the aspect of art appreciation.

(2) Teach Individual Children

Very often, it is necessary to teach individual children by holding their hands to cut, to fold and to colour.

(3) Use Suitable Tools

The children should not be allowed to use dangerous tools such as cutters and knives. Sometimes the teacher has to use double blunt training scissors to make raised lines or designs for totally blind children to cut or to colour. As for colour designs, the teacher has to give the children more guidance.


3.2.10 Design & Technology

In Design & Technology, the children are taught to appreciate the qualities of different materials and to use these materials for designing. They are also taught the use of hand tools and equipment to make different things.

Following are some suggestions geared to the needs of the pupil:

(1) Safety Precautions

For visually impaired children, safety precautions are particularly important and adaptations to hand tools and electrical equipment are required.

(2) Use of Adulteration Tools

Simple jigs can be made by the teacher to assist in specific tasks such as drilling or cutting.

(3) Plan Teaching Tasks

All teaching tasks have to be broken down into steps to give the children a full understanding of the steps of each individual task. Projects should be carefully designed to enable the children to understand all aspects of technical knowledge and skills.

(4) Use of Braille

Measuring devices with Braille readings should also be used.


3.2.11 Physical Education

Physical Education is an indispensable part of the curriculum.
Following are some suggestions geared to the needs of the pupil:

(1) A Specific Name to Each Motor Skill

In teaching Physical Education, each motor skill has to be given a specific name so that the children know how to distinguish one from another. Instructions need to be clear and concise.

(2) Use Appropriate Teaching Method and Safety Precautions

Body contact is necessary to help place the children in correct positions in activities such as climbing, swimming, balancing, heaving, vaulting, hopping, skipping, running, rolling, jumping, etc. Sound source devices should be applied in activities such as running, bean bag throwing and ball games. The teacher should take special safety precautions when conducting Physical Education lessons, outdoor activities, sports and games. Full use must be made of space available so as to minimize the danger of collision during class, group or individual activities.

(3) Keep Apparatus in Proper Places

All apparatus must be kept in proper places. The children should be told where they are in the gymnasium so that they can locate, lift and carry them.

3.2.12 Home Economics

This subject aims at developing in the children a caring attitude towards others; a positive attitude towards health; basic knowledge and skills in fashions and design, cooking, home management, etc.

Following are some suggestions geared to the needs of the pupil:

(1) Learning Content

Knowledge of basic food groups, nutritional value, choice and storage of food, balanced diet, good table manners and eating habits, household cleanliness and personal hygiene, dressing and care of personal belongings, etc. should be taught at the initial stage.

Basic knowledge of consumer education is also recommended. The knowledge of consumers' rights and responsibilities and wise shopping will benefit the children greatly in their daily life.

In learning needlework, fashions and design, visually impaired children can do simple stitching and simple household sewing.

(2) Use Suitable Teaching Methods

These basic techniques have to be taught step by step so that the children can practise the correct method confidently.

Great emphasis should be placed on practical work. As totally blind and severe low vision children cannot see demonstrations or work independently, the teacher has to teach them individually and provide them with opportunities to touch the ingredients, raw food, utensils, home appliances, fabric, clothes, etc. Besides touching, the other senses of smell and taste can help them to distinguish whether the food is raw, cooked, tasty, fresh or spoilt.

(3) Use Special Aids

Audible timers with braille marks, talking weighing machines, liquid measurers and thermometers, guards for irons, etc. are the special aids used in Home Economics. In sewing manually, they need a threading tool to assist them in threading needles. To teach stitching, the teacher has to prepare paper patterns as guidelines for the children.


ETV programmes are available for teaching many subjects in the curriculum. For visually impaired children, ETV can also serve as a good supplement to learning provided the teacher gives detailed explanation of certain screen images or scenes, of which no auditory cues are available.

Communicative and Social Skills Training

Visually impaired children need particularly to learn communicative and social skills. The teacher should provide them with sufficient opportunities for social interaction and exposure to general knowledge and what happens around them both at school and at home. The teacher should help them to develop a pleasant personality, a good body image and a proper way of walking. Visually impaired children should also learn the rules of social courtesy e.g. to initiate and maintain a conversation in a suitable tone and with appropriate facial expressions.

Self-care Skills Training

Since visually impaired children are unable to learn by observation, daily living skills need to be learnt by actual practice. These skills include feeding, dressing, toileting, personal hygiene, cleaning and cooking. These have to be taught right from the lowest class gradually up to senior classes.

Guidance and Counselling

The teacher should maintain effective communication with the children and be consistent in managing their behaviour problems, and in giving appropriate guidance and counselling. He should help them to develop such qualities as self-image, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-awareness, self-discipline, independence, a good personality, a positive learning attitude, good interpersonal relationship, social awareness, etc. The teacher may also work in collaboration with other staff and professionals for effective management of the children's behaviour problems.

Career counselling and guidance for school leavers or overage slow learners are necessary to prepare them for vocational training, thus improving their job opportunities, and to help them integrate into society.


3.3 Special Training for Totally Blind and Severe Low Vision Children

3.3.1 Tactile and Pre-braille Training

(1) Tactile Training

Without vision, the children receive fragmentary information through their sense of touch and form a concept of the 'whole' from the information of the 'parts'. Therefore, tactile training and pre-braille training are very important to visually impaired children. In order to acquire sensory acuity and efficiency, tactile training, manipulative play and art and craft activities are emphasized.

(2) Pre-Braille Training

Through pre-braille training, the children learn to be sensitive to the positions of the six cells and to distinguish the difference between dots and lines by using Peg Boards. When they are ready to learn braille numbers, the English alphabet and Chinese braille initial particles, Braille Boards are used for practice. In learning the tone marks of Chinese characters, young children are taught to learn by chanting them to acquire competence.

Another important aspect in training the 'reading fingers' is the skills of scanning and locating text, ranging from the orientation of lines to paragraphs and pages.

(3) Training in Reading Graphics

Reading symbolic pictures in raised forms is another specialized area of training since braille textbooks also require the incorporation of graphic illustrations. However, when they are in the form of photos, they are too complicated to be represented in line graphics and thus brief descriptions have to be incorporated.


Orientation and Mobility Training

(1) Attention to Pupil's General Health Conditions

Before designing individual orientation and mobility training programmes for visually impaired children, special attention should be paid to their general health conditions, the presence of other physical or sensory impairments and their individual learning difficulties. In order to enhance the children's body image and spatial concept, and to facilitate the integration of sensory and self-protective skills, the elements which address equilibrium, co-ordination, flexibility and agility should be incorporated.

(2) Training at Junior Primary Level

Activities organized for visually impaired children at the junior primary level should mainly be carried out in a controlled environment. Emphasis should be placed on the development of awareness and effective utilization of the children's remaining senses such as auditory, tactile, olfactory, kinaesthetic and particularly non-visual cognition. Motivation and positive reinforcement are of paramount importance during this stage of training.

(3) Training at the Senior Primary Level

At the senior primary level, which is a crucial period to develop in the children a positive attitude towards the subject, more encouragement has to be given. Emphasis should be put on acquiring skills for non-visual orientation and navigation in a less controlled environment. Training should be conducted outdoors to enhance awareness and utilization of environmental clues and landmarks. This is an appropriate period to develop basic cane skills and to consolidate concepts of sidewalks, blocks, streets and intersections. It is also advisable to take different weather conditions into consideration.

The following activities will enable the children to use the different means of public transport while travelling independently, so that they can integrate into society:

(1) implications of traffic rules and regulations;

(2) auditory analysis of traffic patterns;

(3) development of advanced cane skills;

(4) selection of appropriate means of transport;

(5) use of good judgment under changing conditions;

(6) transfer of acquired skills to new situations;

(7) appropriate interactions with the public.

(4) Training at Secondary Level

At the secondary level, achievement depends on the maturity of the children, their desire and opportunity for independent travelling and the expectations of their parents.


3.3.3 Training in the Use of Rehabilitation Aids

(1) Optacon

The Optacon is a portable electronic reading aid which converts the image of a printed letter or a symbol into enlarged vibrating tactile form that visually impaired children can feel with one finger.

Optacon training takes about 50 hours and is divided into 3 stages: the preliminary stage, the basic training stage and the follow-up stage.

(a) At the preliminary stage, the children are trained in the basic skills of handling the machine, learning the printed forms of the capital and small letters, and reading words, phrases and short sentences.
(b) At the basic training stage, the children are trained to read short paragraphs, a full page and later the whole book. Different types of words and formats in the book are also introduced.
(c) At the follow-up stage, the emphasis is on speed reading and reading of practical printed materials e.g. exercises, letters, bank statements and bills. The use of the Optacon allows the children to read directly from the typewriter. The Cathode Ray Tube lens also enables the children to read the computer screen with the Optacon.

(2) Kurzweil Reading Machine

The Kurzweil Reading Machine is a machine for totally blind and severe low vision children which reads English ink-print text aloud.

The machine enables the children to expose themselves to learning media other than braille. The teacher should familiarise the children with the English pronunciation produced by the machine, and help them to understand the different functions and the orientation of the keys, to control the machine in reading text and to overcome the difficulties caused by the malfunction of the machine.

(3) VersaBraille

The VersaBraille is a braille word-processor and an electronic data organizer for totally blind and severe low vision children with a braille display and interface ability to computers and printers.

VersaBraille training also emphasizes its communicating function with sighted people. It can help the children to study and do their homework. The teacher should familiarise the children with the orientation of the keys on the control panel by guiding their hands to indicate the actual positions and to distinguish between the 'left' and 'right' movements as well.


3.4 Adaptations to the Curriculum for Moderate Low Vision Children

3.4.1 Use of Visual Aids

As moderate low vision children have residual vision only, some visual materials used by the teacher should be enlarged where necessary. For example, in teaching Mathematics, mathematical charts and graphs have to be enlarged or enhanced. In Music, the children should be taught to read music with enlarged notes drawn on the Wyteboard. Pictures or diagrams used in various subjects can be enlarged by projecting them on the wall or screen with slides or transparencies.

Moderate low vision children generally have difficulties in reading and writing print. The use of flash cards in enlarged print can help to promote their visual memory in recognizing Chinese characters and English words in language lessons. These children should be given lots of exercises to familiarize themselves with the order of the strokes of complicated Chinese characters. Similarly, sufficient exercises on the different strokes and curves of English letters are also required. In addition, adequate drills to acquire proficiency in English cursive writing are also important to improve the children's speed of writing.

3.4.2 Use of Optical Aids and Adaptive Equipment

The use of optical aids and adaptive equipment are very important to the children's learning. In watching ETV programmes, the use of distant optical aids can help the children achieve better viewing effect. In learning sewing manually in Home Economics, threading tools are needed to assist the children in threading needles. Sewing magnifiers are also required for sewing. To give the children access to the computer, the teacher should train them to use screen enlargement devices or software so that they can see the visual displays on the screen. For subjects like Art & Craft and Design & Technology, hand tools and electrical equipment have to be adapted to help the children with their practical work.


3.5 Special Training for Moderate Low Vision Children

3.5.1 Low Vision Training

(1) Assessment of Children's Visual Ability

Before a vision training programme can be planned, assessment of the children's visual ability should be carried out. Although some children have very limited visual ability, they can use their residual vision so effectively that their functioning appears to be visually oriented. Others having similar visual potential may not be as responsive to visual stimuli. They may behave as if they were unable to see at all. A visual functioning assessment is therefore necessary to determine the present visual functioning level of each child so that individual vision training programmes with suitable visual stimulating materials can be developed to help the children use their limited vision to the full.

(2) Basic Training Programme

The purpose of the basic training programme is to provide the children with appropriate sequence for visual stimulation activities to help them develop their limited visual ability. These activities should be made interesting and motivating and the amount of visual information provided for the children should not be excessive. Besides, even the slightest effort or improvement made by the children need to be reinforced.

The following are some suggested activities for visual development:

(1) Activities to develop eye muscle control

These activities can facilitate fixation, tracking, focussing and accommodation of eye muscles. As unused and untrained eye muscles become tired quickly, these activities should be carried out for only a very short period of time at the beginning of the training. Then the duration can be increased gradually.

(2) Activities to promote recognition, identification and discrimination of three-dimensional and two-dimensional objects and geometric shapes

These activities can first be introduced by using three-dimensional real objects followed by three-dimensional geometric shapes. Pictures of two-dimensional real objects with black silhouette against a white background and drawings of two-dimensional black solid or outline geometric shapes can then be introduced. As the children show some progress, other colours can be added discriminatingly and more complex pictures or drawings can be used.

(3) Activities to develop visual memory

These activities can be introduced by using geometric shapes to develop patterns. Linear designs and abstract outlines of real objects may be used for further training. Then it may lead to the learning of the English alphabet, Chinese characters and numbers.

(4) Activities to develop
eye-hand coordination

Activities such as eye-hand co-ordination and finger dexterity training can develop hand manipulative skills required in the children's daily life.

(5) Activities to develop
colour discrimination

Children who are not colour deficient can learn the names of colours and the differences between shades, hues and similar colours through such activities as naming the colours or reproducing colour patterns.

(6) Activities to motivate the use of optical aids

Even young children should be encouraged to use optical aids such as magnifiers and telescopes to help them adjust to classroom learning.

(7) Activities to develop reading and writing skills

Skills of fixation, tracking and focussing should be applied in reading and writing. Speed skill should be developed with the help of interesting activities such as 'Letter Tracking' and 'Search-A-Word'. The teacher should also help individual children to decide the best angle and distance of the reading materials from their eyes.

(8) Activities in computer-assisted learning

Computer activities can reinforce and consolidate visual skills training.

(9) Activities using closed circuit television

These activities provide low vision children who have extremely limited visual acuity or constricted visual fields with opportunities to learn print even if braille is their main medium of learning. It also reinforces visual memory by providing sharp contrast and enlarged print for low vision children who use print as a medium. This is particularly effective in learning complex Chinese characters.

Orientation and Mobility Training

Orientation and mobility training programmes for moderate low vision children should emphasize the development of awareness and functional utilization of their residual vision. Consideration should be given to the effects of illumination and weather conditions as well. Other basic principles of orientation and mobility training are the same as those for totally blind and severe low vision children as described in Section 3.3.2.


3.6 Training of Mild Low Vision Children in Special Classes Operated in Ordinary Schools

3.6.1 Objective

Special classes for mild low vision children operated in ordinary schools aim at providing these children with education in an ordinary school setting.

3.6.2 Teaching Approach

Low vision children in special classes follow the ordinary school curriculum. Since the children have different visual problems and learn at a pace different from that of their peers, individual attention from the teacher is essential. Project work and unit teaching are encouraged. In teaching these children, the teacher should take into account the teaching objectives, the different levels of ability of the children and ways to adapt learning materials to suit individual learning needs. The teaching approach should be flexible enough to meet the different levels of ability of the children in coping with the ordinary school curriculum.

3.6.3 Use of Teaching Aids and Equipment

The teacher should make the best use of projectors and audio aids to enhance the visual efficiency of the children and to alleviate constant eye strain. Colourful pictures, simple charts with bold outlines and word cards with large print should also be used whenever possible. The children should be taught and encouraged to use such tools as telescopes and magnifiers properly. Clear and concise explanations or instructions should be given to help the children learn more effectively, e.g. in the study of specimens and in experiments during science lessons, in learning the formation and structure of Chinese characters, etc.

3.6.4 Emphasis in Teaching

At the beginning of the primary level, emphasis should be put on training the children in visual skills to enhance their visual efficiency, e.g. eye-hand co-ordination training. (For other suggested visual stimulation activities, please refer to Section 3.5.1). The teacher should also help the children to develop self-care skills and to observe classroom discipline.

At the secondary level, low vision children are offered education in special classes with emphasis on social integration. Preparation should be made while they are in junior secondary classes to facilitate their total integration in senior secondary classes. Therefore the teacher should give the children adequate guidance and counselling and encourage them to take an active part in extra-curricular activities at school.


3.7 Curriculum Guidelines for Visually Impaired Children with Mental Handicap

There are quite a number of visually impaired children in Hong Kong who are also mentally handicapped. These children cannot cope with the curriculum designed for children who are only visually impaired. They need to follow a curriculum basically similar to that designed for mentally handicapped children, but with modifications where required. They need programmes specially designed to prepare them for living and functioning in their homes, the neighbourhood and the community; to equip them with study/work skills and habits for further studies/vocational training; to enable them to achieve as much independence as possible and become contributing members of the community.

Visually impaired children who are also mentally handicapped learn and progress at a slower pace than their peers who are only visually impaired. They are likely to experience difficulties in academic subjects requiring abstract thinking and complex learning strategies. They may have difficulties in language and motor co-ordination. They also need enhancement in developing their personal and social skills. The main subject areas for these children can be grouped as follows:

3.7.1 Academics

(1) Basic skills in functional Mathematics

To enable them to cope with daily life, the children are taught the concepts of size, speed, weight and measurement, and other basic concepts in Mathematics, e.g. 'full', 'empty', 'more', 'less', etc. Concepts of good management of time and proper use of money are also important in enabling the children to lead an independent life.

(2) Basic reading and writing

The children are also taught some basic vocabulary required for survival and social needs, e.g. 'exit', 'toilet', 'male', 'female', 'danger', 'poison', etc. They also learn to read and write their names and addresses. For those who have residual vision and are capable of learning braille, pre-braille training is provided.

3.7.2 Language and Communication

Through speech and language training, the children learn to use speech as a means of communication and to interpret non-verbal and graphic means of communication. The development of language and communication skills help the children to learn concepts more easily and to express themselves more effectively.

3.7.3 Personal and Social Developments

(1) Self-care skills

Self-care skills help the children to attain personal independence. Such skills include the ability to look after one's daily needs, e.g. feeding, taking a bath, attending to one's belongings and observing safety rules.

(2) Growth and sex education

The children are taught their sex differences and the correct attitude towards the opposite sex and members of the family. Training in personal hygiene and household cleanliness is also provided.

(3) Social skills

Learning how to get along with people and how to behave in different situations is very important throughout one's life. The children should know the different roles they play in school, in their families and in the community. They should be helped to develop a positive attitude towards people.

3.7.4 Motor Development

(1) Perceptual motor training

Perceptual motor training is essential to the children in developing their concentration, discrimination, concept formation and the use of the senses. Relevant exercises are given to make the children aware of their body image, to improve their eye-hand co-ordination and to relate to the environment.

(2) Orientation and mobility training

Individual and group training sessions are carried out in school and in the neighbourhood. All the children have to learn to find their way around the school. This is a very important part of their adjustment to the environment.

(3) Physical training

A variety of activities are provided. The children learn how to co-operate with others in the course of learning different sports and games. Quite a number of social skills can be reinforced in controlled situations.

(4) Rhythm and movement

Mime and role play are interesting to the children when they work through musical activities and rhythmic movement. They can explore what they can do with different parts of their bodies and learn how to co-ordinate their limbs to give better postures.

3.7.5 Aesthetic and Creative Activities

(1) Music

Most visually impaired children with mental handicap are interested in music. They love singing all sorts of songs and listening to various kinds of music. They also enjoy playing musical instruments and performing in percussion groups.

(2) Art & Craft

Through art and craft activities, the children learn to be creative and imaginative. They learn how to express their feelings with the help of different colours and shapes. They can differentiate the qualities of the materials used, e.g. hard and soft, smooth and rough, light and heavy, etc. These activities help them to concentrate and reinforce their finger dexterity. They also learn to appreciate beauty and to cooperate when working in a group.

3.7.6 Low Vision Training

(1) Basic training

Basic training programmes are provided to help the children develop their limited visual ability. Every programme consists of a sequence of visual stimulation activities for different aspects of visual development such as:

(a) activities to train visual focus;

(b) activities to promote visual recognition and differentiation;

(c) activities to train eye-hand co-ordination;

(d) activities to develop eye muscle control.

The children are also encouraged to use their residual vision in games and activities, e.g. ball games and matching games.

(1) Reading and Writing (Chinese)

(a) Reading

The children are taught to read in the sequence of words, phrases, sentences and paragraphs. They are encouraged to use optical aids in reading. Various activities are also carried out to improve their reading skills.

(b) Writing

The children are taught pre-writing skills through a variety of activities such as:

    1. colouring pictures with outlines provided;
    2. joining incomplete lines;
    3. joining dots;
    4. drawing a line within parallel lines, e.g. straight lines, zig-zag lines and wavy lines.

They also learn to write in the sequence of words, phrases and sentences.