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Use of Skype to Educate Underprivileged Blind Children in India: Motivations, Barriers and Teaching Strategies

Author:

Pavithra Rajan

Saksham- The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Round-7, Counselling Programme, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Deonar, Mumbai, 4000088, IN
About Pavithra

The author has seven years experience as a clinical and research physiotherapist. She is a silver medallist in physiotherapy from India and a Kinesiology graduate with specialization in community based rehabilitation from Canada. Currently, she is working with Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

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Abstract

Purpose: The primary objective of the study was to explore the barriers that volunteers face and the strategies they employ when teaching blind children via Skype. It also attempted to understand the difference in methodologies used in teaching blind children and other underprivileged children.

Method: In February and March 2013 an online survey was conducted with 8 volunteer teachers who work with two development programmes in South India, supported by the Ann Foundation, a non-government organisation based in New York, United States.

Results: Volunteers find that teaching blind children through Skype is challenging as well as rewarding. Poor internet connectivity in the remote villages of the country is a major technical barrier. The interaction barriers are lack of advanced learning devices and specific teaching expertise to maintain the children’s interest in learning. Strategies to enhance learning among the blind children included the use of contemporary topics, fun activities, songs and storytelling.

Conclusions: There are a unique set of barriers when teaching blind children through Skype. While most of these can be overcome with facilitatory learning approaches, volunteer teachers continue to struggle with the barriers of poor internet connectivity and reluctance on the part of blind students to participate in the class.

Limitations: The sample size was small, numbering only 8 volunteers who, however, provided many insights. Since they were based in different parts of the world, it was not possible to conduct one-to-one interviews, which might have yielded more information.
How to Cite: Rajan, P., 2013. Use of Skype to Educate Underprivileged Blind Children in India: Motivations, Barriers and Teaching Strategies. Disability, CBR & Inclusive Development, 24(3), pp.98–111. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5463/dcid.v24i3.218
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Published on 06 Nov 2013.
Peer Reviewed

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