The purpose of this study was to identify determinants enhancing teacher‘s proficiency in English Braille teaching in a primary school for the blind, Kiambu County, Kenya. Specifically the study sought to identify teachers‘ attitude towards the Braille literacy, identify teachers‘ competence in using Braille code, determine the level of teachers‘ training in Braille code, and identify the extent of availability and suitability of Braille teaching materials. The findings of this study may be useful since determinants for enhancing teachers‘ proficiency in teaching English Braille in the study area are identified. Since this was a case study, a school for the blind in Kiambu County was purposively selected for the study. Descriptive research design was used to describe the factors affecting the learning of English Braille from the teachers. The target population of the study was 224 consisting of 35 teachers and 189 upper primary learners. The researcher used a sample size of 68 respondents to represent the whole study population. The primary data was collected using questionnaire and interviews guide. Questionnaires for those who could read print and interview guides for the respondents who could not. The data collected was first organized then coded and keyed into the computer for analysis. Descriptive statistics was used to analyze the data which was reported in form of frequency tables and calculated into percentages. Bar graphs and pie charts were also used in presentation for clarity. The study found out that, teachers had mixed attitude towards teaching of Braille the reason being heavy workload, pre-braille experience and the teacher‘s level of academic qualification. Teachers‘ competence in teaching of Braille was affected by proficiency in Braille writing and reading, professional & academic training and experience of years in teaching. Workshops, refresher courses as well as seminars on Braille need to be organized to enhance teachers‘ competence on effective Braille teaching. The level of training sufficient for a Braille teacher was found to be diploma plus visual impairment professionalism and a diploma in special needs. The area of study had no adequate or sufficient Braille materials for enhancement of Braille literacy. The Braille materials were not locally available and had to be ordered nationally or internationally which comes with exorbitant prices. The study recommends that Braille teachers be given in-service training to raise their competence and proficiency in Braille. The government to be involved provision of adequate and sufficiency Braille equipments.
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
This chapter highlights the background of the study, the problem statement, purpose of the study, research objectives, research questions, significance of the study, assumptions of the study, limitations and delimitations of the study. In addition, it highlights the conceptual framework and gives operational definitions of key terms.
Background to the Study
According to World Health Organization (WHO), disability affects 10 percent of every population. An estimated 650 million people worldwide, of whom 200 million are children, experience some form of disability. Surveys conducted in 55 countries by the Disability Statistics Compendium show prevalence rates varying from 0.2% to 21%. WHO estimates that about 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide with 39 million being blind and 246 having low vision. Africa is the most vulnerable continent of all with over 90% of the world’s visually impaired living in the region.
Visual impairments are caused by a number of eye disorders, including albinism, cataracts, retinal degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, corneal disorders, congenital disorders, and infection (Torpyy et al., 2003). There are various challenges facing children with blindness and low vision. The academic world is awash with overwhelming amount of printed material with which learners with blindness and low vision are confronted. Textbooks, class schedules, class syllabus, class handouts, tests, e-mail, overhead transparencies, slides, and videotapes are examples of the
voluminous mass of visual material to which they must have access in an alternate form (Disability Resource Centre (DRC), 2008).
Relevant educational materials aimed at enhancing academic achievement and skill acquisition (of totally blind and low vision) like typewriters, current brailed textbooks, large print text books, computers installed with talking programs, talking calculators, tape recorders and Braille machines, are either in short supply or completely absent. In most primary schools, textbooks that are supplied are in print and since the book production units of the schools are poorly equipped for Braille book production and understaffed, so only a few persons with blindness and low vision can access brailed text books (Boame, 2013).
For any programme to be effective, qualified staffs are needed who can deliver good results. However, this is not the case for persons with blindness and low vision. There is lack of qualified personnel in the various fields or disciplines like academic, vocational and technical skills (Boame, 2013). Most of the Teachers Training College (TTC) in developing countries are not well-equipped to give their graduates the necessary skills to enable them to impact positively on the needs of persons with blindness and low vision. Some of the graduates leave the teaching field to more lucrative employment, creating shortages of specialist staff in the schools Knowlton, M., & Berger, K., (1999). In order to deal with the challenges, most of learner with blindness use a combination of methods to access printed material including readers, audio tape recorded books, Brailed books, or a text-based scanner/reader computer hardware and software.