Blind, Education of the

Blind, Education of the


a branch of education of the handicapped that is concerned with the upbringing, education, training, and vocational guidance of individuals with impaired vision, including persons with either congenital or acquired blindness, those with partial or defective vision, and the blind-and-deaf.

The French pedagogue V. Haüy, who established the first school for the blind in Paris in 1784, was the founder of this branch of education. In Russia, the first school for the blind was founded in St. Petersburg in 1807. In the 19th century, charitable funds were used in many countries to build such schools. The development of an educational system and methodology for the blind in Russia is associated with such individuals as K. K. Grot and A. I. Skrebitskii. Russian schools for the blind, attended by 4 to 5 percent of all blind children, provided three or four years of education and vocational training.

Schools for the blind were incorporated into the system of public education in the earliest years of Soviet power. Schools for those with defective vision were first established in the 1930’s. Special ten-year and eight-year schools of general education were established for the universal compulsory education of the blind and the visually handicapped. The goals, tasks, content of subject matter, and didactic principles in these schools are the same as in the regular schools, but their practical application takes into account the special requirements of blind and visually handicapped children. Textbooks and other materials in braille are used in schools for the blind, and textbooks printed in large script are available for those with defective vision.

Education of the blind in the Soviet Union is based on the general principles of Marxist-Leninist educational theory. Its purpose is to develop the intellectual and physical skills of the young, provide them with a general high school education that includes an understanding of scientific principles, instill in them a materialist world view and communist morality, and prepare them for life and work. Ways are sought to raise the level of subject matter taught, as well as to improve educational methods and principles, the structure of special schools and preschool institutions for children with impaired vision, and the organization of differentiated programs of education.

The most important task in the education of the blind is the rational use of the training process to develop, protect, and preserve any degree of residual sight in children, as well as to prevent and overcome any secondary mental or physical abnormalities by appropriate corrective measures and remedial instruction, the use of teaching aids, and the correction and compensation of impaired vision. The training process emphasizes the development of mental and verbal skills, logical memory, conscious attention, power of observation, and spatial orientation skills—all such functions playing a major role in the compensation and correction of sight impairments.

Education of the blind draws on the findings of allied sciences—general pedagogy, psychology, physiological optics, ophthalmology, pediatrics, school hygiene, physiology of the higher nervous system, biotechnology, and the technology of aids for the blind.

In the Soviet Union, the center of this branch of education is the Scientific Research Institute of Defectology of the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the USSR. The A. I. Herzen Leningrad Pedagogical Institute and other pedagogical institutes are also engaged in theoretical and practical work in this field.

Other countries that have centers of education for the blind include Great Britain, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the German Democratic Republic, the Socialist Republic of Rumania, the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, the Federal Republic of Germany, the United States, Sweden, and Japan.


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