Visually Impaired Students In A Dual Language Program Case Study

Visually Impaired Students in a Dual-Language Classroom

This article is a case study of two students in a dual-language in an elementary and middle school in Colorado. Two students, Sarah and Madison, participated in the school’s dual-language program that provides content instruction in both English and Spanish. Sarah was a sixth grader at the time of the study; her first language is English and her primary literary code is Braille. Madison was a fifth grader at the time of the study; she is a Latina but her primary language at home is English, and her primary literary code is Braille.

The article speaks briefly about the program in which the girls participated, and then outlines some of the major benefits that teachers and students themselves described as receiving from participation in the dual-language program.

The students mentioned that they particularly enjoyed the chance to learn Spanish from native Spanish speakers and that they enjoyed being able to speak both English and Spanish with their friends in the program.

Teachers specifically mentioned the following benefits and themes in their responses:

  • Delivery of Instruction: the teachers interviewed indicated that they had to adjust their planning and instruction in order to accommodate Madison and Sarah, however all stated that they thought they experience of teaching these students made them better teachers overall because of the increased time, collaboration and planning that went into their lessons.
  • Information: all teachers stated that they needed access to information about how to best instruct students with visual impairments prior to planning their lessons for these students.
  • Student characteristics: all teachers mentioned that visually impaired students would need to have strong auditory and language skills in order to be successful in a dual-language program; they also mentioned that the student’s individual motivation and behavior were important for their success.
  • Parent Involvement: the teachers said that parent involvement was key to a visually impaired student’s success in such a program.
  • Collaboration: teachers spoke often of the importance of time and resources for collaboration for general education and special education teachers in order to appropriately plan instruction for the girls.

In all, involved parties agreed that the two students were successful in the dual-language program and that the program benefited the students, parents, and teachers. This case study provides an excellent example of the possibility open to visually impaired students when schools, parents, and teachers are willing to collaborate and provide high-quality educational opportunities for a diverse collection of students.

What can this teach us?

First and foremost, the article reminds us of the amazing potential of visually impaired students to integrate themselves into not only a general education classroom, but a general education classroom that uses two languages as its primary modes of instruction. It also reminds us of the great deal of collaboration and resources that are needed to create these kinds of experiences for other visually impaired students throughout the country. Finally, it served (for me at least) as a reminder that the inclusion special education students makes us better teachers by forcing us to think creatively, work collaboratively, and plan extensively every day.

Millan, M. and Pearson, V. (November 2005). Students with Visual Impairments in a Dual-Language Program: A Case Study. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness. Vol 99(11), pp 715-719. Available online at:

This page was created by Terra White