1 Ural Federal University (RUSSIAN FEDERATION)
2 North China University of Water Resources and Electric Power (CHINA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2020 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Pages: 5616-5623
ISBN: 978-84-09-24232-0
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2020.1209
Conference name: 13th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 9-10 November, 2020
Location: Online Conference
The importance of being able to communicate in English as in the global lingua franca is hard to be overestimated nowadays. Unfortunately, blind and visually impaired people find themselves at a disadvantage here as prevailing teaching techniques and materials tend to use much visual information. Consequently, numerous distant courses of EFL usually seen as a widely accessible way to acquire and master the language, mostly fail to be so for the blind. All in all, the situation with teaching EFL to the visually impaired appears to be ambivalent. On the one hand, the problem is of a global interest, the geography of research ranging from the Latin America and the USA to India and Indonesia all through Germany, Poland, Sweden and Russia. On the other hand, however, the overall amount of publications concerning the topic is comparatively limited. This article aims to make an overview of about 30 papers dedicated to teaching EFL to the blind and visually impaired. All the studies in the area fall into two major categories: blind learners’ profile and teaching techniques. The first includes cognitive strategies used by the visually impaired, their special needs and specific difficulties they come across while learning EFL both face-to-face and distantly, in inclusive/ non-inclusive, person-/ computer-assisted environment. The second focuses on techniques and materials used by EFL teachers in real life classrooms as well as on computer-based assistive technologies being part of some experimental distant language courses. It is worth noticing that most studies in the area of blind learners’ profile are dedicated to children and teenagers, leaving the adult learners out. Moreover, the category of ‘the blind and visually impaired’ turns out rather heterogeneous itself as the totally blind and the partially-sighted tend to face different difficulties and so, to prefer different cognitive strategies while learning EFL. Blind adult learners’ profile seems to be much influenced by the previous learning experience, consequently, tends to vary from country to country and is to be further investigated. Methodological progress in the sphere of teaching techniques appears to be patchy. Most success reports are dedicated to face-to-face inclusive/ non-inclusive teacher-assisted methods and experiments. As for the distant EFL teaching and learning, one of the main problems lying here is connected with the comparatively high price of computer-based assistive technologies able to facilitate teaching to the blind distantly, which makes the technologies in question next to inaccessible to a large proportion of the visually impaired worldwide. Thus, it seriously restricts creating and using teaching techniques based on computer assistive technologies of the kind. However, the foremost problem of the distant EFL teaching to the blind is the non-existing methodology as only very few temporary experimental distant courses have been made so far but, unfortunately, the experiments’ results are mostly inaccessible. Therefore, distant teaching EFL to blind and visually impaired adults is obviously to be further and deeper researched.
Teaching EFL, visually impaired students, blind education.