By Jason B. Neola
NAGA CITY --- A working model that will enable the visually-challenged individuals and those with hearing impairments to achieve total development of their potentials is what the Philippine Blind Union (PBU) wants to pilot in the 3rd district of Camarines Sur.
PBU, a national association of blind persons, which is headed by Jose ‘Butch’ Robredo as national president, came up with the tool that would help to increase the attendance of children and teenagers with such disabilities in regular school.
Aside from encouraging the children to come out in the open, the project also help the young ones to develop their capabilities that they will enjoy life along with other learners in regular schools.
“We wish that through this project we can work on our advocacy to capacitate these young individuals to increase their sector’s participation in regular schools,” says Robredo.
He said that visually-challenged persons and those with hearing impairment should attend regular schools like ordinary individuals. Paano kung dumating ang panahon o kaya nagkataon na ang mga tao o magulang na nag-aasikaso sa mga kabataang ito ay mawala na?” he said.
In partnership with the city government’s Resource Center for the Blind (RCB) and the Naga City Visually-Impaired Association (NACIVIA), the PBU launched the project that also aims to help the young ones achieve full development of their potentials, sense of dignity and self-worth.
“But the challenge for these individuals to go out in the open and allow themselves to be felt and circulate in the mainstream of the society will remain and is difficult to resolve unless their parents and guardians will seriously understand the situation of their children or wards,” says 33-year-old visually-challenged Felix P. Chavez, who works at RCB.
Robredo said that Chavez’ observation is valid “that’s why we conduct community-based counselling wherein families are encourage to understand seriously the needs, situations, feelings, concerns, conditions and priorities of these kids. The project taps the services of the Barangay Health Workers in the conduct of counselling.”
Under the working model, the child-beneficiaries will be prepared for regular schooling with classroom teachers who were given orientation and technical training.
Last Friday, around 50 Day Care teachers participated in the training/seminar that delves in 5 subject matters, such as, Developing Learning Strategies: Educating young children with visual impairment in general education (preschools), Assistive Technology, Orientation and Mobility, and Change to Braille and Abacus Readiness.
The teachers’ training was part of a series of activities organized by PBU to increase or make inclusive the participation of children and youth in the visually and hearing impaired sector to regular education. The activities, which started in March, this year, and will end in August 2018, targets around 800 participants (parents, caregivers, barangay health workers, classroom teachers and members of NACIVIA) in the 3rd district of the province.
The working model is contained with 4 stages before a visually or hearing impaired child or youth will be enrolled in regular school. The first stage is identification of pre-kindergarten and out-of-school children and youth who are visually and hearing impaired; Stage 2: Training of Barangay Health Workers on how to conduct screening assessment of the children and youth and other technical approaches on how to handle visually and hearing impaired persons; Stage 3: Conduct of training/seminars for parents/guardians/caregivers on Braille alphabet, basic sign language, distribution of Braille pamphlets to parents/caregivers/guardians, and Stage 4: Referrals of pre-kindergarten children to local schools for mainstreaming in kindergarten, elementary or high school and referrals to eligible children/youth to appropriate trainings for vocational rehabilitation or employment.