Description of The Changing Role and Practice of Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments: Practitioners' Views from Australia
Structured Abstract: Introduction: This study examined the everyday work of eight teachers of students with visual impairments at governmental primary and secondary schools in Queensland, Australia. The small-scale study aimed to capture the scope and complexity of the activities of these teachers and the regular challenges they face in their expected everyday roles. Methods: Telephone interviews were used to collect descriptive data from the teachers. A direct field-sampling procedure was used across the governmental schools to recruit qualified and specialist teachers who met prespecified criteria, most of whom lived in Brisbane, Queensland's capital city. The content of the interviews was generated from two sequenced activities with a different group of experienced teachers of students with visual impairments. Results: The teachers carried out complex and demanding duties as part of their everyday roles. These duties were consistent with those performed by their counterparts around the world. The most frequently performed and most important activities including providing direct support to students, advocating for students' needs, and collaborating across school and community contexts. The identified challenges were linked primarily to the lack of time to undertake important activities. Discussion: Three important and interconnected findings can be drawn from the results: role complexity, time and collaboration, and the importance of the expanded core curriculum. Implications for Practitioners: The findings provide an initial snapshot of the changing role reported by the teachers. Thus, these data offer a beginning point for future probes into the workplace knowledge and skills required by teachers of students with visual impairments.