If blind or visually impaired people (VIPs) want to learn a language, they face a problem. Usually, they learn a foreign language either as children in special schools for VIPs or in the framework of rehabilitation training. If they approach training centres later in life, they find that these centres are not usually equipped for visually impaired people. This problem was highlighted in various European studies, amongst which was one carried out in Italy by the Unione Italiana Ciechi ed Ipovedenti Firenze. This study emphasised the need for teachers in both private and public schools to receive adequate training and materials. This is also very true for language teaching. Most training materials are based on printed materials or visual information (pictures, whiteboard, beamer, etc.).
Audio material is available, but is almost always designed as an add-on for books and papers. Therefore, if visually impaired people approach language schools, they are usually refused because the teachers do not have training materials, nor are the teachers prepared or trained in coping with them.
The project is structured to meet this problem with a combined package of:
a Train the Trainer course for language teachers on how to deal with VIPs and how to use and create teaching materials for this target group
adaptable computer-based training modules for Business English designed for blind and visually impaired adult learners
Since one of the major challenges is to find qualified language teachers capable of teaching VIPs, the project aims to produce a training framework for existing qualified language teachers to give them the skills necessary to integrate VIPs into their language classes. Central to the computer-based training modules is the training technology developed in the Socrates ALLVIP project. This technology uses a force-feedback joystick for haptic feedback and a user interface control that offers true interactivity. The adaptability of the modules to include new content or learner languages and the Train the Trainer course designated as a Grundtvig course, favours this approach being widely recommended.
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