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Living Paintings

A QTVI teacher shares her story

30th July 2020

Handa's Suprise written and illustrated by Eilleen Browne. An african girl holds a wide, woven bowl on her head filled with fruit including a pineapple, mango, papaya, lemon and orange while peeping from behind is the long neck of an ostrich.

Judy, a QTVI teacher, sent us this wonderful story to let us know just how much her pupil benefits from learning with our tactile and braille books.

Judy says,

“I work as a QTVI with one student with severe vision impairment. The student is now 12 years old, and was born with Microcephaly which affected the development of her brain, including her ability to see.  She is able to see colour, light and dark and can read highly contrasted 48pt type when very close up, but trying to read and decipher images is tiring and slow.  She has been learning uncontracted Braille and is able to use the Brailler to write and record, she has also learned some contractions.

Because of her reduced memory capacity and VI which are both part of the condition, her literacy attainment is equivalent to that of a much younger child.  In addition, the inability to see her surroundings, the television or anything else that fully sighted children glean their information from has severely affected her knowledge and understanding of the world around her, as well as her social and life skills.

Her family are very supportive and have given her lots of physical opportunities like horse riding and swimming.

Part of our additional curriculum activities at school, and currently at home, have been the use of Living Paintings resources.

Very early on I started ordering materials from Living Paintings for my student to practise her Braille reading skills, and to be able to access the Science packs, which were a revelation to me and my understanding of her needs.

When my student read Handa’s Surprise and looked very closely at the illustration of the elephant she said “Oh, is that what an elephant looks like, I didn’t know”.  Also, when exploring raised images of trees in a science fact book, she felt and looked closely at a tree with leaves on and identified what it was, then she felt the one next to it and asked “why is it different, what’s this at the bottom?”  I explained that in the autumn all the leaves fall off the trees on to the floor, leaving the bare twigs and branches; she said that she didn’t know that.

These two incidents, among others, made me realise (as somebody completely new to the field of VI), how very limited her vision and therefore her understanding was. It made me even keener to explain everything clearly and to give her every opportunity to experience and understand things outside of school.

So far we have joined other students with VI in the county, we have had a sensory experience morning at a local garden centre and done some creative follow up activities. We have booked for her to go horse riding with other VI children in the area, have visited a local café and ordered and paid for food, and we are planning a visit to the seafront and the zoo next academic year. All these things have come about from a realisation of her limited experience, prompted by the Living Paintings books!

We have, and will continue to order materials from Living Paintings which will help the student I work with to not only read Braille more fluently, but to gain knowledge and experience from both the story books and the brilliant educational resources. I am sure that they will continue to serve as a source of inspiration for her and me as I seek to organise life experiences for her in the years to come.”

Borrow Handa’s Surprise from our FREE library

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