The rights and responsibilities of students who have disabilities have received much attention but the staff members who have disabilities have received far less attention. In the scholarly context, there has been a steadily growing body of literature which addresses issues related to the education of young people with disabilities leaving out teachers with disabilities. This study therefore sought to determine factors that impede teaching performance of teachers with visual impairment in public primary schools in Meru County. Specific objectives of the study were to: identify the professional challenges affecting the performance of visually impaired teachers teaching in public primary schools in Meru County; determine the availability of resources needed by teachers with visual impairment; and establish the number of teachers with visual impairment teaching in public primary schools in Meru County. The study also identified strategies aimed at overcoming challenges encountered by teachers with visual impairment teaching in public primary schools. The study may be of significance to the government and relevant stakeholders as it revealed factors impeding teaching performance of teachers with visual impairment in public primary schools. The study was based on capital theory of school effectiveness by Hargreaves‟ (2001). The study employed descriptive survey research design to target 25 headteachers and 25 teachers with visual impairment in public primary schools in Meru County. Census sampling technique was used to select all the teachers who participated in this study. Questionnaire and an interview guide were used as the main tools for data collection. Data used for the study involved both qualitative and quantitative data. Qualitative data was analyzed thematically in line with the research objectives while quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive statistics such as frequency counts and percentages. Results of the analysis were presented using frequency tables, bar graphs and pie charts. The study established that the most available resources in the sampled schools were Brailled textbooks, large print books, typewriters and white canes. Raised line check books, hand-held lenses were not available. The major challenges faced by teachers with visual impairment were lack of teaching and learning materials, such as projectors, poor access to teaching and learning materials, negative attitude and discrimination among the teachers, lack of support from the school administration and unfriendly school physical structures. The study recommends that all the school administrators should ensure that teachers with visual impairment have access to and usage of computer and other accessories like computers, pen drives and projectors in schools since teachers with visual impairment considered these to be fundamental material resources required to enhance their teaching.
The chapter highlighted the background to 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. It also highlighted theoretical and conceptual framework and operational definition of terms.
Background to the Study
World Health Organization (WHO, 2011) reports that fifteen percent which is equivalent to 1 billion people in the world have some form of disability. The report estimates that one hundred and ten to one hundred and ninety million people have various challenges in functioning with an approximate number of children being ninety three million to one hundred and fifty million. This number of children ranged between the age of 0 to 18 years. Globally, it is estimated that two hundred and eighty five million people around the World are visually impaired, with thirty nine million of them being blind and two hundred and fourty six suffering from low vision (WHO, 2012). A small number of these people can read print by use of a magnifier or when it‟s large and held closer to them. Others can only use their eye sight to identify large figures, colors or contrast. World Health Organization (2012) also reported that the estimated number of people with severe visual impairment and are not legally blind is
According to WHO (2012), an individual is classified as blind when his/her visual acuity (sharpness of vision) is 20/200 or worse after correction, or when his/her field of vision is less than 20 degrees. There are various causes of blindness among individuals. For example, there are those persons whose blindness was present at birth, others become blind through illness, accident or as a result of aging (glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, optic nerve atrophy, diabetic retinopathy).
According to Shaw, Gold & Wolffe (2007), individuals with visual problems are more likely to be confronted with barriers that limit their participation in the labour market despite Government policies facilitating their inclusion. This is clearly indicated by the population of the employees in the public institutions where very few persons with visual impairment were employed compared to the general population, despite the fact that their education level is comparable. In support of these findings, a Canadian Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS), revealed that among the individuals aged between 15 and 64 years with visual impairment, only 35% of them reported that they were employed (Goertz, Houkes, Nijhuis & van Lierop, 2010).
Similarly, Shaw, et al., (2007) in their study on employment-related experiences of youths who are visually impaired established that the number of individuals with visual impairment was also very low compared to population of individuals with different types of disabilities. It was established that comparing the three categories of individuals (Those with visual impairment, other disabilities and the “normal”), very few individuals with visual impairment were employed followed by those with other disabilities and then “normal” (Shaw, et al., 2007).
According to La Grove & Daye‟s New Zealand study (2005), many people who are visually impaired face barriers while performing their duties at their work places. For instance, 59% of individuals interviewed by Shaw et al. (2007) and 79% of participants in the La Grove & Daye New Zealand study (2005) expressed that they experiences barriers in their places of work. More so, in the report of the survey released by a Canadian Participation and Activity Limitations, 56% of employed working-age individuals who were visually impaired cited that their condition limited the amount and type of work they could do (Brennan and Sleightholm, 2009).