Background: South African higher education policy frameworks highlight renewed interest in equity, access and participation imperatives for students with disabilities (SWDs). However, students with visual disabilities continue to face barriers in their teaching practice school placements.
Objectives: This article aims, firstly, to provide early insights into the barriers experienced by students with visual disabilities in their teaching practice school placements in under-resourced schools in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Secondly, it introduces learning communities and a teaching practice pre-placement booklet to enhance equity, access and participation in teaching practice school placements.
Method: This study adopted a qualitative methodology using semi-structured interviews to elicit data from two Bachelor of Education students with visual disabilities, who were part of a teaching practice learning community managed by the Disability Unit at the University. Thematic analysis was used, using Tinto’s Learning Community Model which generated valuable evidence to argue for institutional commitment to achieve equity, access and participation for students with visual disabilities.
Results: Through engagement with a teaching practice learning community and a teaching practice pre-placement booklet, two students with visual disabilities responded to and managed the chalkboard in ways that promoted teaching and learning in the classroom. These retention support trajectories provide evidence to support enhanced equity, access and participation. Given the stigma associated with disability and the need for equity at policy level, higher education institutions should seriously consider systemic mechanisms for access, participation and success outcomes in the teaching practice school placements of students with visual disabilities.
Conclusion: Barriers to participation signal the need for accessible teaching and learning strategies for use by students with visual disabilities in their teaching practice school placements. Teaching practice assessors should be alerted to contextual differences in resourced and under-resourced school settings and the diverse ways in which SWDs navigate these differences.
African Journal of Disability, Vol 8, 2019