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Segregation versus Integration

Educational Dilemma for VI pupils

Focus: School Years

Topic: Inclusion

Moshe Oved


Aleh - learning center for the blind

Hebrew University



972 – 2 – 5882155




The change in the approach toward inclusion of VI pupils has occurred in many Western countries due to; political reforms, advanced technology and the public attitude toward individuals with vision impairment.

This paper will examine the dilemma of segregated and integrated education systems. It will discuss the impact of these two systems on Visually Impaired (VI) pupils during junior and high school years. It will suggest that the shift from service provision within a segregate system to utilizing it to the mainstream (inclusion system), brought up an unforeseen problems for the integrated pupils.

Lastly, in this paper I shall offer my suggested educational model based on the current model practiced in Israel.


Paradoxically, mainstreaming on the one-hand, enables an alternative perspective as it highlights changing environmental adaptations, political and attitudinal reforms; and on the other hand, it may perpetuated the pupils’ disability. It can also socially isolate them from their peers and neglect them academically (Harkins & Drower, 1995).

Education is regarded as the key element in bringing a change into the VI on the individual pupil’s life and his/her status in the community. In addition it will also argue the importance of education as a primary mechanism for the VI pupils’ socialization and will describe the different education delivery systems that have been influenced by educators and administrators who are in most instances sighted. However, this is beginning to change as more blind people start speaking out for themselves and are involved in policy making decisions that power/control their own life or their children’s lives.  I shall also attempt to relate to some concepts regarding integration using a case study from Israel, where inclusion of VI in the mainstream education is the only practiced method from  kindergarten to high school.

Small (1999), suggests that when a blind person falls into just one of this systems the lack of choice can limit developmental life opportunities.

New Concept for the Education of VI children

The educational goals for VI children that Aleh set as its objectives to be achieved through this model are essentially the same as those for all pupils within the general education systems.

The goals are:

·       Effective communication

·       Social competence

·       Employability and personal independence

In order to accomplish these goals, it requires specific interventions and modifications of their own individual educational program needs. The following is the model that will help reach and accomplish the required modifications to enable VI pupils and their parents to become active participants of the process in defining the feature of the children.

The model:

Segregate System for Talented VI Pupils

With Good Academic Abilities


Segregate System for VI Pupils

Multiple Impaired


VI Pupils Integrated

In Regular Mainstream Schools













Figure 1: Junior high and high schools for the VI pupils to age of 18.


Explanation of the model:

The model includes five possible options for the pupils in junior high and high school to ages, including VI pupils with severe handicaps.

Type A

The lowest level of the model is the "Foundation". Low functioning and multi handicapped pupils will be based in this level. It will accommodate the pupils in who are not able to integrate in the mainstream schools. The pupils at this school will be provided with 24 hours daylong care.

They will be trained in activities of daily living, and  in O&M skills by an instructors assigned only to this school.  The academic curricula in this level school will become a secondary in its importance.

This level will accommodate pupils in elementary school to high school.

Type B     

The “First Level” of the model building. This level will accommodate talented VI pupils who need special attention in a segregate learning school, so they could exercise their full potential. This residential school should be in a challenging academic setting such as  a university to offer intensive academic stimulation in a multi integrating environment (residing at the university dormitories). Once approved by academic assessment, it will be one of the options suggested to the approved pupils. This program will be a partial segregated based junior high and high school curricula.

It is important to note that VI pupils can and do succeed in regular schools but at different rates and often in different sequences. This situation makes the talented pupil to achieve less than his potential. There must be significant intervention coordinated by rehabilitation and educational team to ensure that expected outcome results are reached.

The characteristics of the candidates for the program.

Anne Corn (1986) used the definition of gifted handicapped population as: “gifted children who are also identified and eligible for services for the handicap. A visually handicap child is not gifted because of being able to achieve a high school diploma”. We could add to this and say that VI child who has the potential to successfully graduate higher education, should be a good candidate for this type of program.

After the pupil was identified as gifted/talented, he needs to be placed at the school offered. Hackney (1986) in his article introduces a program to meet the needs of these children. Our suggested model program will  operate as a residential school. It is designed to meet the needs of gifted VI pupils. The additional program is an enrichment summer program complimenting the full time residential or day school. This program will be geared to the pupil’s individual desire.

Type C

Mid-level segment of the model will meet the needs of the majority of the VI students of all ages. In this level the regular integrated pupil will be included. They will be assessed by a low vision optometrist, be trained in rehabilitation and social skills and O&M. They will be supported by a Social Worker. They also will receive academic support when and if needed.  Itinerate teacher will assist at home or at school on a routine basis and will provide the student with all the necessary low vision and blindness skills to overcome functioning with visual impairment. Activities in this section of the school will co-relate with Type B school to get academic support and skills for the pupils. Most likely VI students are to succeed in this integrated school if appropriately instructed and provided with a full array of services by qualified staff.

Type D

Low-Mid level in the program. This level will include pupils that could study in integrated school as they achieved independence skills but exhibit low  academic achievements. They will get intensive support from staff of the “A” level program. They will spend one-day a week in the program. It is expected that pupils from the low-lower level will improve their learning skills and upgrade to the regular school. The opposite is a possibility too. Pupils whose academic achievement do not meet the academic requirements of this level will be downgraded to level “A”.

On going contacts between the special school and the integrated school should allow flow of information objective as possible in regards to the pupils’ learning status and achievements.

Type E

High-Mid level in the program will accommodate pupils who chose (or their parents chose) to study in the mainstream schools in their communities. They also should demonstrate high academic abilities and achievements. They will be encouraged to attend special programs (twice a week) with the Type “B” program students (gifted students). There they will get support in their studies, social skills and daily living skills. They will attend these programs as external students.

How does the model work?

In all classes in the elementary school, between first and sixth grades apart of Type “A” pupils will attend regular school. Because in this period the social skill are not yet well developed this may be the time to help the pupils develop them. Aside of supporting them academically, they will get as much help as needed to improve their O&M and daily living skills. An interdisciplinary team approach will be practiced. During the period the pupils are in the program they will be observed and assess, to enable planing to which of the school models they should be integrated in. Parents and the pupils themselves will be active partners in the process. 

Important notes for the success of the program:

  1. An administrative partnership with a team approach is needed to assure the success.
  2. Each level should be administrated separately. However, interaction and exchange of information are critical in the transition of the pupils from one level to another.
  3. Information should flow from one level to the other especially between following levels. The establishment of a central administrative body is important for management purposes of the educational programs of the pupils in every level.
  4. An educational coordinator of the teams and the itinerant, rehabilitation and O&M instructors will supervise the admission and placement of the pupils in the various level programs.
  5. Low Vision optometry clinic will prescribe the various low vision lenses and special devices to suit the pupils residual vision. Part of this clinic will be the training in the use of the devices by a low vision specialist.
  6. Rehabilitation and O&M instructors will play a major role in the support activities of the model and will assure the independence skills of the pupils at all levels of the model. 
  7. Personnel preparation unit will assure training of staff in specialized techniques and technology.
  8. Interdisciplinary services will include specialists such as ophthalmologists, general MD and OD consultants, social workers, attorney and finance adviser. They will support the pupils and the parents in relevant aspects relating to rights and accessibility of visually impaired and will assist in lobbying relevant issues of importance to heighten the regulations and law concerning visually impaired pupils.

9.         The Library will supply the reading needs of the student transcribed into Braille, recordings or large print or any alternative mod of technology, which might be developed in the future.

10. Assistive technology library will offer the pupils the basic needed equipment on a loan program for use at home and at schools to foster compatible communication opportunities.

11.  An important aspect of this program will be a technology-training center to assure the pupils skills in the use of the technology.

  1. Resource training center will include training of teachers, reader to support pupils at the program, the schools where they are integrated and at home.
  2. The Center will coordinate the training of teachers in whose classes VI pupils will be integrated with the special methods of teaching VI children. The prerequisite of all these teachers will be teaching certificate in Education/Special Education and Technology. Also, the teacher must learn the techniques for curriculum adaptation for non-visual learning experiences and assessment skills and deliver instruction in specific areas of academics (NFB, 1997).
  3. Admission center that will determine the level of the pupils and appropriate suitable in the program levels and or in the community schools. For example,  a student that is assessed to study at level “D” or “E”, could move from integrated school to segregated school and visa-versa if:
  4. The pupil meets the requirements of the school.
  5. The pupil wants to change his learning environment.
  6. The pupil meets the independent skill assessment of his age level.
  7. The student was referred to the program for specific skill learning (such as Braille, technology or daily living), so that he can return to his mainstream class in the community as was defined by Father Carroll “Temporary Segregation” (1963).


This model is offered to compliment the current services offered in Israel for VI pupils other than the mainstream schools.  It is based on my experience in the field educating VI pupils. It also leans on my observations of the current mainstreaming lacking outcomes.

Segments of the described model are already being implemented as “transition” and  “pre-academic” program at Aleh Center at Hebrew University. It is done to complement the current education system that does not meet the needs of VI pupils; graduating with maximum development of their intellectual potential and independence skills, to be fully included in the community in their mature life.

As a part of a group of educators of the VI, I believe that a combined system as suggested in this model, will provide parents, VI pupils and professionals the proper opportunity to form a partnership. This cooperation will help in determining levels of education and training goals of VI students as individuals. It is my belief that the model will  allow to support the students achieve their full potential in their personal academic and independent skills.

As a firs step to fully implement the model I would hope to propose it as a base for discussions among educators in the country and have their support to the concepts presented here.

 In addition I hope that some of the concepts referred to as “segregated education” be reconsidered and adapted. Once implemented, it will be necessary to follow it up with a comparative study.  So far no research studies were done to support the current mainstream education system.

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