Two retired teachers from the United Kingdom have provided training on visual impairment and special needs, at no cost, to close to thirty (30) Dominicans.
Claire Djali and Lina Graham, having retired from teaching visually impaired, special needs and deaf blind students for several years, decided to do a project to visit countries around the world and impart the knowledge they’ve acquired to others.
Having spoken to a former colleague, who is Dominican, they contacted Beverly Leblanc,
Beverly Leblanc, director of the Achievement Learning Centre to partner with on the project.
The teachers, who paid their ticket to Dominica, were assisted with accommodation and funding to purchase some equipment for the training through a UK based charitable organization which assists Dominican students to attend secondary school.
The Achievement Learning Centre, which provides special education services to children and to families and we also offer training, said through its director that they were “very happy for the project”.
“This week we had them and we worked with different organizations; the Roving Caregivers, PACIS Respite Centre in Portsmouth and the Premier Residential and Home Care in Morne Daniel, the Achievement Learning Centre and they visited the Alpha Centre, and will hopefully visit a special needs centre in the Kalinago Territory before they leave,” Leblanc told Dominica Vibes on Monday 25 April 2016.
Among the topics covered during the week of training were independent skills, the senses and sighted guide.
“One of the things I did was as soon as they contacted me I said yes and we contacted other community based organizations which I think would benefit. Although we did not get the response that we expected, but those that we trained, I think it met their needs, particularly with the Roving Caregivers, the PASIS Respite Centre,” Leblanc noted.
“What we tried to do, I think, is to give them a bit more than just education, it’s the compensatory skills, the other skills that visually impaired people might have lost,” Lina Graham said.
“So it’s not only about braille, it’s about all the other skills and also to teach the sighted people how to help them in the best way and to keep the visually impaired people as independent as possible,” Graham added.
Prior to arriving here last week, the UK teachers had no idea what to anticipate since they had never done the project before.
“We were amazed at how the participants responded, we had different groups at different times but there was a particular group of five that we worked with more than anybody else, and we were so pleased because they got totally involved and were totally responsive to our ideas and I think we all worked together really well,” Claire Djali informed.
“We really didn’t know what we were coming to, it’s the first time we’ve done a project like this and we hoped it would be useful, but we didn’t really know if it was going to be useful so we were delighted that everybody was so responsive,” Djali continued.
As per the Achievement Learning Centre’s director Beverly Leblanc, the training was needed, because there are a lot of persons with special needs in our community, as well as the elderly, who “once they start to get old, they almost behave like little children and so it is important that we are equipped with the right skills. It is true that we do things all the time, but it’s not everything that we do all the time that we are doing in the right way”.