Since early March 2020, when the United States and Canada quickly shifted how children, including those with visual impairments, additional disabilities, and deafblindness, were being educated because of the COVID-19 pandemic, AFB’s research team, headed by Dr. L. Penny Rosenblum, has led three research studies.
The most recent, Access and Engagement II, collected data from 662 family members, teachers of students with visual impairments, and O&M specialists to understand the challenges and successes in the patchwork of education occurring throughout the United States and Canada. The Executive Summary provides a snapshot of the finding and recommendations. The full report notes the challenges with digital learning tools, instruction for students with additional disabilities, mental health concerns, but also the successes and collaboration that have occurred as the pandemic has impacted education throughout the 2020-2021 school year.
We’re not done yet. AFB research staff and their collaborators are asking a broad section of individuals to share their reflections on the 2020-2021 school year. During May and June, two short surveys, one for students 13 years and older and the other for professionals, are available. The researchers are also conducting focus groups. They want to hear from teens, family members, early intervention providers, general education teachers, special education teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, and more by June 30.
These two studies, coupled with the first Access and Engagement study conducted in Spring 2020 with data from 1,921 family members and professionals tell the story of how the pandemic has impacted our students’ education. The Executive Summary highlights the key points of the study. The full report has more than 50 quotes giving voice to the concerns being experienced as the pandemic first impacted education.
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