Dattilo Braille, Dislpay Braille, Pc / iPad, ergonomic desks, kits for artistic and geometric relief drawing, software for writing and autonomous management of mathematics, but also interactive floors and the “Braille music editor”, a tool that allows the blind musician to write scores independently. These are some of the aids received by 48 children with visual disabilities thanks to the project ‘The solidarity that builds’ created by Lions Clubs International, Multiple District 108 Italy, and the Italian Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired (Uici), with the support of Typhlodidactic Consultancy Centers coordinated by Uici. A particularly precious gift for these children and their families who have suffered even more with distance learning.
The weight of distance learning
In Italy there are over 4000 students with visual disabilities and for most of them the impact of the containment and management measures of the Covid-19 emergency has been dramatic. Hundreds of young people and children forced to study in total ‘educational isolation’ or unable to participate in DAD sessions due to lack of assistance tools, or penalized by the physical distancing that prevented them from using touch, which is fundamental for them since it represents the only learning and exploration tool in the world. Enormous difficulties also for families and in particular for parents who, due to the pandemic, have had to face very difficult economic situations.
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The solidarity project
In short, an emergency in the emergency that has risked cutting out blind and partially sighted children and children with additional disabilities from school, for whom studying in normal conditions already requires a greater commitment than that of other students. In order to allow blind students to be able to study with equal opportunities as others, the Lions Clubs International, Multiple District 108 Italy, and the Italian Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired, with the support of the coordinated Typhlodidactic Consultancy Centers of Uici, have created to the project: “The solidarity that builds”, which provides for the donation of aids and support for school inclusion.
The iPhone becomes an electronic eye for those with low vision
Helping those most in need
Students and female students were involved and schools of all levels and levels were identified throughout the country with particular attention to those pupils who, in addition to visual impairment, have disadvantaged or “particular” economic conditions, as in the case of exclusion from the system of the National Health Service for reasons of citizenship, and to schools located in peripheral areas without these tools. The Project also involved children with additional disabilities in addition to sightlessness, also paying attention to the supports dedicated to learning artistic subjects, first of all music, to which blind children access with greater difficulty because teachers often do not have access. specific tools.
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Concrete help for the study
The project involved 48 children and about 12 schools throughout Italy, from north to south, and was entirely funded by Lions Clubs International, Multiple District 108 Italy. The equipment includes typho-pedagogical aids (aids for the linguistic, technical-expressive, scientific, historical and geographical area, spatial representation) and tifloinformatics (for reading, writing and calculating) and supports for drawing, music, posture. The children received specific aids for their study and learning needs. For example, the DattiloBraille Perkins, Braille typewriters that replace awl and tablet and allow for greater writing speed and immediacy in reading.
3D images and music
Another valuable tool for teachers too is the Zy-Fuse Heather, a machine that allows you to transform a wide range of drawings into tactile images, readable by blind and visually impaired people. Braille books for children generally do not contain embossed images or at most contain only some of them, both because the already high costs would further increase, and because the voluminousness of the texts would be difficult to manage by a primary school child. And then again Braille screen readers with 20 – 40 characters (known as Braille bars); Pc / iPad equipped with speech synthesis and magnifying software (zoom text); ergonomic benches with lamps to prevent the visually impaired from assuming wrong postures and the Funtronic Med, an interactive rehabilitation floor with vocal synthesis. Also very welcome is the new generation software Braille Music Editor 2, ideal for studying music.
In Italy there are 19 Typhlodidactic Consultancy Centers set up by Uici, the Italian Library for the Blind and the National Federation of Pro-Blind Institutions. Their task is to support blind and visually impaired students in their study paths and to help educators in assessing the potential of children with disabilities, guiding the planning of educational itineraries. Teachers, students and parents can view the teaching material available and the different methods of use at the individual Centers or contact the Italian Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired directly (www.uiciechi.it).