Publication Date

2015

Abstract

There is a general need for research in Australia on whether the support services provided in schools prove useful for students with disabilities (Datta, 2015; O’Rourke & Houghton, 2006), especially students with vision impairment. This qualitative study aimed to provide insights into the influence of the support services delivered in South Australian schools for students with vision impairments’ problem-solving skills, and their family, social, and academic lives. Semistructured, open-ended interviews were conducted with 14 students with vision impairment (8 adolescents and 6 adults), 5 parents, and 4 teachers. Participating students’ age ranged between 15 and 18 years for the adolescent students and between 19 and 25 years for the adult students. Adolescent students were enrolled in mainstream and specialist secondary schools, and adult students were enrolled in vocational courses at TAFE Institutes. The data reflected a range of viewpoints from which to examine the problem under investigation. The interview responses from the 3 groups of participants revealed that the support services positively influenced students’ problem-solving skills, their social behaviour, and their academic learning. Although most students with vision impairment felt that the support services had no influence on their family relationships, their parents and teachers considered it had helped in the students’ family lives. The interviews were particularly useful in evaluating the support services that students with vision impairment received. These findings have implications for teachers, special educators, policymakers, and a range of professionals in the education and special education sector in highlighting modifications and improvements in the support services for these students. This study has provided a limited basis for generalising to any wider population beyond the participants themselves due to the study's small sample size and diversity of educational settings.

Document Type

Journal Article

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