Academic experiences of blind students in two colleges of education in Zambia.

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Msoni, Rodrick
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The University of Zambia
This study explored the academic experiences of blind students in two colleges of education in Zambia. It mainly investigated the nature of student induction programmes offered in colleges of education, barriers affecting the education of blind students in the two colleges of education and available support provisions. The study employed an interpretative paradigm, qualitative method and phenomenological design. Using purposive sampling, a total sample of fourteen (14) participants; eight (8) blind students, four (4) college lecturers for special education and two (2) college administrators were picked for the study. Semi-structured interview guides and observation checklists were used to collect data. The study established that the nature of induction programs offered to first-years students in the two colleges of education was mainly in twofold: actualisation of students to academic practices and general familiarisation of all students to the college environment. Although the study established that actualisation of students to academic practices enlightened first-year learners to their academic life at the colleges, narratives of discontentment were equally espoused concerning the inclusivity of the program in relation to absence of induction handouts in differentiated formats and the inability of the colleges to separately familiarise blind students to the college environment and absence of O&M training in colleges of education. The most pronounced academic hindrances experienced by blind students were linked to inaccessible and unpredictable college environment, difficulties in securing sighted guides during blind students’ stay in the colleges, the dilemmas of repeatedly making individual follow-up of their written academic work, assessment dilemmas; lack of assistive technology and non-existence of resource rooms. The study recommended that the two colleges of education should undertake separate familiarisation programmes for blind students during first-year induction, Ministry of General Education should institute policy provisions that should compel colleges of education to provide O&M training to blind students, need for colleges to improve their physical learning environments and need to promote buddy system approach and other appropriate support provisions. Keywords: Academic experiences, blind, induction, Orientation and Mobility, support services
People with visual disabilities--Education. , Visually impaired students--Study and teaching.