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Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

Top tips for MSI inclusion in the classroom

Top tips mild multi-sensory impairment

Mild Sensory Losses – Major Impacts
You don’t hear what you don’t hear
And you don’t know what you didn’t hear….
You don’t see what you don’t see
And you don’t know what you didn’t see!
Dr Seuss
A multi-sensory impairment means that a learner has impairments in both vision and hearing. These sensory losses can range from profound to mild; they can exist alongside additional learning and medical needs or be the continual challenge for cognitively able learner. There are children with multi-sensory impairments in our mainstream primary and secondary schools as well as our special schools.
Across Devon schools we have become far better at identifying and meeting the needs of those learner’s whose dual sensory impairments are more evident. However we tend to assume that mild sensory losses will have minimal consequences and therefore require little or no intervention.
A mild dual-sensory loss impacts on access to incidental learning. This learning happens continually by chance throughout life. We effortlessly graze on a rich diet of visual and auditory information. Parallel play depends on a learner noticing the activity of a peer and trying it out in their own unique way. We all continue to be parallel players in our learning – glancing at the way somebody else engages with a problem; linking what we see to something we previously learnt; ear-wigging on a conversation between friends.
In a typical classroom these are the learning opportunities that are less accessible to our multi-sensory impaired learners who may only access distorted or meaningless information. A learner with a mild hearing loss relies heavily on the information they can pick up from a speaker’s lips and face. With an additional visual impairment, however mild, this supporting information is also fragile. MSI learners may not see a peer’s face when they contribute to the class discussion. They may miss the fine detail on the class board. A video clip may be a sensory blur. Multi-sensory impaired learners are often described as “within their own internal world” – this is an understandable survival strategy if a volume of sensory information is inaccessible and confusing.

Top Tips:

  • Learner is positioned optimally for vison and hearing
  • Positive reinforcement for wearing of hearing aids and glasses
  • Positive reinforcement for learner’s active listening to one another
  • Teacher tries to avoid moving around the classroom whilst talking
  • Teacher names speaker and re-iterates pupil contributions to discussions
  • Pace of class discussion is reduced by using strategies such as raising hands, talking stick, Soundfield system microphone.
  • Teacher overtly celebrates good ideas of peers – use of visualiser, photos
  • Bullet points from discussions are recorded on the board
  • Reduced use of board – learner has a desk top copy of information
  • Access technology is embraced – for example, a tablet computer connected to interactive whiteboard.

Reference: Jenny Lace, Teacher Trainer, TSBVI, Texas Deafblind Outreach