The Future of Education

Edition 12

Accepted Abstracts

Pedagogy for the Differently Abled: Teaching the Visually Impaired

Maheshvari Naidu, University of KwaZulu Natal (South Africa)

Abstract

This paper is situated at the junction of feminist pedagogy and critical disability theory and draws from the insights gained from interviews with visually impaired students as part of a project on ‘body’, learning and ‘disability theory’. While feminist pedagogy, at its core, can be claimed as attempting to empower students, seeking egalitarian relationships, and striving to teach at the margins, an ableist pedagogy works within the frame of a social model of disability and seeks inclusivity that strives to bring the margins, to the centre.

This paper attempts to bring into mainstream discussion, tertiary teaching amongst the visually impaired, compelling us to rethink their corporeality within our classes. The paper works through the methodological approach of narrative analysis and suggests that teaching the visually impaired calls for recognition of a more specific kind of productive pedagogy that works to embrace the (social) learning experiences of this category of student. While critical disability theory speaks to the political insights and issues of power (or lack thereof) within contexts of material and social impairment, feminist pedagogy speaks to a democratic (co)creation of knowledge, and participatory teaching and learning in classrooms that we seek to construct as being inclusive.

Findings reveal that the visually impaired students in the study experience body and education as entwined in ways that pedagogically exclude and render teachers blind to the learning of particular categories of students. As strong counter-narratives however, the findings also offer powerful empirical reference points of how we can begin to excavate and attempt to construct a more productive pedagogy that seeks to render this category of students more visible to us.

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