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Extending the Bridge

Helping Tutors, Teachers, and Other Service Providers
and Their Organizations to Better Serve Blind and Visually-Impaired Adults
Learning English as a Second Language (ESL),
Focusing on Literacy Acquisition

A six-session series of information and discussion

This series was presented in May and June of 2003. It was funded primarily by a grant from the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB).  In 2002, the presenters, Sylvie Kashdan, Robby Barnes and Cecilia Erin Walsh, attended a three-day training presented by the American Foundation For The Blind National Literacy Center, entitled Bridging the Gap:  Best Practices for Instructing Adults Who Are Visually Impaired and Have Low Literacy Skills.  Following this training we were invited to submit a proposal for sharing what we had learned.  Hence, this series, Extending the Bridge.  Other funding sources were St. James ESL Program, Kaizen Program for New English Learners with Visual Limitations, and Washington State Office of Adult Literacy.  We also received help from volunteers with research and organizational tasks.

Session One:  The Basics:  Challenges and Possibilities for Blind and Visually Impaired Immigrants and Refugees 

Presenters' introductions, and participants introductions

Recognizing Roles and Skills (including A Note on Referrals)

Personal reflections on experiences with people with visual limitations

Orientation to blindness and visual impairment (including:

Our students are...

Some basic facts about vision

Debunking Some Myths About People Who Are Blind or Visually-Impaired

What to Do When You Meet an Immigrant or Refugee Who is Blind or Has Low Vision (including Cultural conventions)

What are the special problems and challenges of new English learners with visual limitations? 

What can be of help to new English learners with visual impairments?

Some Basic Definitions of Compensatory Skills

Open discussion: Questions and evaluation

Session Two:  Literacy for Adults who are Visually Impaired or Blind with an Emphasis on English as a Second Language  

How eye conditions affect learning and literacy

Modifications in environment

Importance of literacy for visually impaired and blind people, with emphasis on those learning English as a Second Language

How literacy affects learning opportunities and quality of life

Open discussion

Session Three:  Braille and Large Print Literacy; Supplemental Technology


Low-tech tools samples and use

Making reading and writing accessible for low vision and blind people

High-tech tools

Open discussion


Session Four:  Many Ways of Knowing:  Multiple Intelligences  

Welcome and introductions

A word about roles, responsibilities, and referrals

A fingers-on exercise

Discussion:  What does it mean to have “many ways of knowing?”

An ears-on exercise

Reflection:  When have you been aware of having to use your sense of hearing more than your sense of sight?

Exploration of research-based approaches

Learning and teaching grounded in the use of multiple senses, multiple intelligences, social interactions

Practical suggestions for new language acquisition instruction

Open discussion and evaluations


Session Five:  Strategies for Effective Instruction and Learning

A Note on Referrals: For specific tools for making learning more accessible consult appropriate Professionals 


Lojban interactive activities

Teaching Strategies:  Lessons, Activities, Adaptations, and Resources

Total physical response

Dialogue Journals

Value for all students of combining senses and learning capacities:  listening, speaking, reading, writing

*  How prior experience furthers new learning

*  Intake and assessment:  getting to know your students

*  Adaptations of standardized tools 

Adapting the Learning Environment: Environmental adjustments

Open discussion


Session Six:  Collaboration and Cooperation:  intra- and inter-agency


Opening activity:  Mapping internal and external daily and routine contacts; round-robin sharing: 

1.  What are the main, most important tasks in a typical day?

2.  If serving blind or visually-impaired students, what outside agencies or contacts are most helpful in making your work easier?

Looking inside our agencies:  What do we do?  With whom do we do it?  What would we want to do?

Reaching out to form Interagency Collaboration:  Kaizen + St. James = Enhanced ESL, Kaizen-St. James collaboration

*  Structure

*  Learning for SJESL

*  Learning for Kaizen Reaching in to facilitate Intra-agency Cooperation

*  Changes in mainstream ESL Program

Where can we go from here?

Wish list:  given no restrictions of any kind, what would make the biggest contribution to making your work more efficient and effective? 

Round-robin sharing.

Challenges and solutions:  Round-robin--each one share one challenge, others offer solutions

Open discussion and Evaluation   

Kaizen Program

for New English Learners with Visual Limitations

810-A Hiawatha Place S., Seattle, WA 98144, U.S.A.

phone:  (206) 784-5619

email:  kaizen_esl@literacynet.org 

web:  http://www.nwlincs.org/kaizen/