Mary Kennan

Mary Kennan is a teacher of visually impaired children working in mainstream primary and special schools

"I spend part of my week at Marus Bridge primary school in Wigan, supporting a blind girl in reception. I work with her on Monday morning and Thursday afternoon, and she has the equivalent of full-time support from two of our teaching assistants who are fluent braillists and experienced with blind children. She's still at the early stages of learning braille, but the teacher gives me the planning each week and we see where it's appropriate for Emily, and where we need to adapt.

We rarely take her out of class because most of the activities in reception are social. Her sociability and language have come on hugely. As she progresses there will be more formal work, so we would be adapting a lot of material into braille or on tape, depending on what's appropriate.

We get a lot of books from Clear Vision, a library of mainstream books in braille with lots of tactile input. It's a way of giving her access to books where the others have picture books, and it's at a slightly higher reading level than her ability, to keep her interest up.

We're lucky because the authority has been sensible in keeping the sensory service central. I've known cases where it's been delegated to schools - they haven't known what's needed and there's been too much teaching assistant support. We can go in with authority and speak to senior management about something, whereas it can be more difficult for a TA who's employed by the school."

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