Collection: Technology for Students Who are Visually Impaired

Guidelines for Integrating Young Children with Visual Impairments in General Educational Settings

REFERENCE: Erwin, E.J. (1991). Guidelines for integrating young children with visual impairments in general educational settings. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 85, 253-260.

Description of article:

The author presents guidelines for the successful integration of preschoolers with visual impairments into educational settings with their sighted peers. She cites and discusses the literature regarding the following issues: integration, mainstreaming, legal implications and opposition to mainstreaming, integration in early childhood special education, and the philosophical and programmatic bases for integration. Regarding the latter, she offers seven statements as the basis for developing and implementing successful integrated placements:

  1. Integration does not mean just placing students in the same classroom or within close proximity.

  2. Social interactions between students with visual impairments and their typical peers may not occur spontaneously or naturally.

  3. Active involvement of a certified teacher of the visually impaired is the only way for successful integration to occur.

  4. A strong partnership is needed between the classroom teacher and the vision consultant-teacher.

  5. A curriculum that reflects a strong early childhood framework is essential.

  6. A systematic data-based instructional approach should be an integral classroom component.

  7. Training in integration should be mandatory at the university level. (pp. 255-256)

The author offers and discusses practical recommendations as a set of guidelines for establishing and implementing effective mainstreaming experiences for children with and without visual impairments. Presented in summary form, these include:

  1. Selecting a high-quality program is the first step.
  2. Strong leadership from administrators can have a major influence on the entire integration process.
  3. The classroom teacher's flexibility is a critical component.
  4. There is a need to explore new roles in special education.
  5. Creating liaisons with community resources is not only advantageous but necessary.
  6. The family's involvement will increase positive outcomes.
  7. Transitions to the next school placement should be well established.
  8. The obligation to educate all children about individual differences has arrived. (pp. 257-258)

She states the need for further research and notes that future direction must focus on "strong leadership, intervention, and research that are based on child outcomes and strong advocacy and public-awareness initiatives." (p. 259)

Elizabeth J. Erwin, M.A.,  Teachers College, Columbia University, Department of Special Education, Box 223, New York, NY 10027.

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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP), located at Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, Massachusetts.  NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013.  Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information.  If you do so, please cite NCIP.   Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government.  This site was last updated in September 1998. 

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