Description of Research Report: Teaching the Meaning of Words to Children with Visual Impairments
In children who are blind (that is, those who have light perception or less vision), syntax, grammar, and lexical development are largely unexplored, and language problems mainly concern semantics and pragmatics (James & Stojanovik, 2007; Pérez-Pereira & Conti-Ramsden, 1999; Tadić, Pring, & Dale, 2010). The same pattern was found in children with visual impairments (that is, those with some visual perception of form and detail) by Tadić et al. (2010) and Wegener-Sleeswijk and Van Ierland (1989a, 1989b), but research in this area is limited due to the range of vision in children with low vision. Although the breadth of the vocabulary of children who are blind or visually impaired is mostly comparable to that of sighted children, some children show problems with regard to the proper meaning of words. These problems reveal themselves when they are asked to elaborate on a word and not just to label an object or situation. An example comes from Linders (1998), who heard a boy who is blind say, “Oh that tree is large, it must be in a large pot.” According to Linders (1998), word knowledge does not seem to be a problem on a lexical level, because words are used correctly in proper sentences, but the full meaning of words is not always comprehended. Linders (1998) also found that although some children who are (legally) blind could describe objects and situations correctly, they were not able to act on this knowledge appropriately, or they had a wrong or incomplete idea of the objects and situations to which their words referred.