Innovative Practice 2020 on Inclusive Education and ICT

Inclusive schools for students who are blind or visually impaired

The Arab Episcopal School was opened in 2003 in the Jordanian city of Irbid with the support of the Anglican Church. An inclusive school and kindergarten for blind and visually impaired children, learning is supported by assistive devices and accessible materials such as magnifiers and Braille books. Children with and without visual impairments, and from different religions, learn together from infancy to age 16. In 2018, the school had 40 students who are blind or visually impaired.

I am so used to being with my blind friends, studying and playing together as if we were one.

Meraa ninth-grade student at Arab Episcopal School
About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Inclusive Education for visually impaired children
Organisation:Arab Episcopal School Irbid
Country
of Implementation
Jordan/ Irbid, Irbid Governorate
Start Year2003

FACTS & FIGURES

  • The number of students with disabilities in the school has grown from two in 2003 to 40 in 2019.
  • Five of the school’s 51 employees are blind teachers.

PROBLEMS TARGETED

Because Irbid did not have schools where blind children could learn, the only option was for children to travel to Amman and live in a boarding school for the blind.

SOLUTION, INNOVATION, AND IMPACT

The Arab Episcopal School is an inclusive Christian school where students, both with and without disabilities and of different religions, learn together. As of 2019, the Arab Episcopal School is the second school in Jordan that works to integrate sighted, low-vision, and blind students.

The school offers support methods to make the resources accessible for its students. Currently, there are Braille computer keyboards and printers, camera magnifiers, and Braille books and boards to support blind or low-vision children with reading. Among the school’s 51 employees, five of the teachers are blind, and they not only support the blind students with class work but also assist them in their daily lives.

Besides the regular curriculum, the school promotes ethnic and religious tolerance. Students learn respectful interaction with their fellow peers as well as life skills, such as healthy nutrition and environmental protection.

Registration has been growing since the school’s launch in 2003, with 275 students in academic year 2018/19.

A women holds a girl with disabilities, who is sitting in class by her shoulders.

Teachers not only support the blind students with class work but also assist them in their daily lives and teach tolerance for different ethnicities and religions.

FUNDING, OUTLOOK AND TRANSFERABILITY

Approximately 60 per cent of the school’s funding comes from fees paid for by sighted students, other donors are the Dioceses of the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, and Jordan’s Higher Council for the Affairs of Persons with Disabilities.

The Arab Episcopal School has not yet replicated its model, but it aims to expand with an inclusive workshop for grade-10 students with learning disabilities, for which it is seeking funding. This workshop would aim to train students with professional skills and to support them in finding employment. The school also aims to establish a Braille-language teaching centre for the local community.

FACTSHEET

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LINKS AND FURTHER READING