The videos that we viewed via YouTube were outstandingly powerful. It is not everyday that my homework brings me to tears (unless it is cataloging.) I know so little about assistive technology and was eager to learn what I could. I dove right into all of the literature and was overwhelmed with my findings.
Discovery exercise #1 sent me sifting through link after link of information for students with blindness. I found that the best approach to teaching sighted children about braille with a blind student in the classroom would be to treat the blind student as the resident expert. That can make anyone feel proud! I would encourage that student to tell us all about the system. Following that discussion, I would encourage the sighted students in the class to learn braille through flashcards, books, writing, etc. To increase their awareness of blindness I would choose books and movies to expose the students to that have someone in it who is blind. Throughout these activities I would continually invite the student who is blind to assist others in understanding.
Discovery exercise #2 led me to a number of fascinating articles. The most profound of these was, "Common Sense in Education and Research." This article presented a bulleted list of common sense statements that sometimes get shadowed by our best of intentions. The article essentially leveled the playing field for all students saying the goal is effective instruction for everyone...period. No situation is perfect. Not every child is going to meet "our" criteria. A teacher can't teach every student in the same manner. One approach is not always going to work. The article, though perhaps a bit brutal at times, poignantly expressed that we must continue to strive for the best opportunities for everyone and not get bogged down by all of the little stuff. Education is a lifelong journey. We don't and never will have all the answers; however, we should use our common sense and teaching ability to make it the best possible scenario.