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Money Smart News - Winter 2007

Best Practices for Teaching People with Visual Impairments

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As a complement to the new Braille version of Money Smart the FDIC has pulled together some tips on teaching students with visual impairments. The tips below are from a longer list prepared with assistance from the National Disability Institute, which is an affiliate of the National Cooperative Bank (NCB) and a Money Smart partner.

Arrive at the class location early to set up and prepare. Thus, you can personally meet and greet participants as they enter the room. Personal introductions will also help the participants feel more comfortable and identify your voice. As participants come in, you can help them put on name tags. Name tags that hang from the neck are easier to use, rather than those that are attached or pinned on.

Try for small class sizes, such as 10 to 15 students. Introductions help students to become more familiar with those sitting next to them. This will help when they have to share equipment. Make classes more interactive and include plenty of time for discussion and questions. Since you cannot use visual aids, a small class size will enable you to explain concepts more thoroughly and descriptively, and allow more time for questions.

Recognize that students may have varying degrees of vision loss. To prepare your materials in the appropriate formats, familiarize yourself with the students by visiting with the organizer prior to class. You need to know in advance how many large-print and Braille guides will be needed. For a class with students who can all see large print, consider blowing up charts and samples at a local print shop.

If needed -- and available -- provide readers to assist certain students during class. You may also want to help students individually during class exercises. Be prepared to secure additional people who can assist students during exercises.

Consider using special tools for exercises. For example, "talking" calculators can be used, and shared, for an exercise to figure out the finance charge in the Money Smart "Charge It Right" module. Check-writing guides can also be used. Students may want to bring their laptops or personal digital assistants. Inform participants in the publicity or registration materials if exercises requiring mathematical computations will be used. Thus, those who own or have access to equipment that they are familiar with can bring the needed technology to class. You also need to ask in advance if people need any accommodations or auxiliary aids and services to achieve effective communication. If so, the program organizers will need to think about where the needed technology can be acquired or borrowed.

For a copy of the complete list of the FDIC's tips, contact the primary authors -- Elizabeth Kelderhouse ( or Barbara Gutierrez ( in the Kansas City Regional Office (phone 1-816-234-8000).

To learn more about the new Money Smart financial education curriculum in Braille and large-print editions, see the FDIC press release or contact your regional Community Affairs Officer.

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