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Education Children with MDVI in China

School Year: MDVI

Peng Xiaguang( Guo Xiaomu, Wang Zhu)

Associate Professor

Department of Special Education

China National Institute for Educational Research

#46 Beisanhuan Zhonglu

Beijing 100088


Tel: 86-10-62003358



In 1987, classroom integration for the children with disabilities was first started to be implemented in China. Since then, the form of integrating the children with disabilities in common schools has become a very important pattern of education for the disabled in China. With the gradual implementation and expansion of classroom integration, a problem arises, i.e., many schools for the blind do not recruit enough students. Thus, on the one hand, many buildings and houses in the School for the Blind lie idle and unused; on the other hand, a large number of pre-school children with disabilities and multi-handicapped children have no access to schooling. Although some multi-handicapped children are admitted by the special schools for the blind, they can not adjust themselves to fit the common education in the special schools and drift along ineffectively. The education for this group of children is far from satisfactory.

In recent years, the prospective students for the blind schools in China are changing quietly, the bright blind students are fewer and fewer; instead, the number of students with multi-disability is on the rise. This is a new challenge that the schools for the blind in China have to face. At present it is indeed not an easy or simple matter to provide proper education programs for these children in China. The first problem is about the understanding towards the importance of the issue. Many local government officials, school authorities as well as teachers lack of understanding towards the role of education for the multi-handicapped children. They feel the multi-handicapped children have no ability to study. Secondly, the special schools are confronted with tremendous difficulties in such areas as, short of funds, short of books, materials and information on the education for the multi-handicapped, short of experienced teachers, etc. But we must have the courage to face the challenge of providing appropriate education for All Children, whether they are disabled or not, whatever disability they suffer from and how serious their disability are. It is based on such thinking that we selected 6 schools for the blind in China, namely, School for the Blind in Shanghai, Beijing, Qingdao, Zhejiang, Guangzhou, and School for the Blind and Deaf-mutes in Chengdu, which have better conditions as the first group of schools for the pilot project. The Perkins School for the Blind in USA has rich experience in the education for the multi-handicapped, so it is agreed that the Hilton–Perkins project funded by the CONRAD N Hilton Foundation will provide partial funding and technological assistance for the pilot project on multi-handicapped children and the project on preschool education in the above mentioned 6 schools for the Blind since 2001.

Content of the project on multi-handicapped children

The project on multi-handicapped children is not simply to provide the multi-handicapped children in the above mentioned 6 schools the opportunity and right to education, but mainly to seek and explore a form of education which fit the practical conditions in China in implementing the education for the multi-handicapped so as to accumulate enough experience in conducting education for the multi-handicapped in the whole country five to ten years later. Details includes,

Objective on the education for the multi-handicapped children;

Examination/diagnosis and arrangement for the multi-handicapped children;

Curriculum arrangement for the multi-handicapped children;

Forms as well as content of training for teachers of multi-handicapped children;

Referential material on education and teaching for the multi-handicapped children;

Targets of the pilot project on children with multi-handicapped

The students admitted by the above-mentioned 6 Schools for the Blind mostly belong to not serious or middle level multi-handicapped. The kinds of disabilities include,

Visually impaired with mentally retarded;

Visually impaired with hearing impairment;

Visually impaired with severe emotional disordered;

Visually impaired with physical disabled;

Visually impaired with autism.

Besides the above mentioned disabilities, the School for the Blind and Deaf-mutes in Chengdu includes the following, deaf together with developmental disabilities, autism, serious diseases for the brain,severe emotional disordered. Some of these children are already in school but study in common classrooms for the normal blind peers with poor results. The others were originally refused by the School. Before the implementation of the project on multi-handicapped, most of the schools for the blind in China (except School for the Blind in Shanghai) all writes clearly in their new students admission notice that, “to enroll blind student who are above 7 years of age and can take care of themselves”. So the result is, many blind children who have reached the school age, but can’t take care of themselves have no access to education. Most of those are multi-handicapped.

Teaching arrangement for the multi-handicapped children

  1. Forms of arrangement

The forms of arrangement for multi-handicapped children, to a large extent, decide on the quality of the education. After a period of exploration, the school for the Blind in Shanghai has opened up various and flexible forms of arrangement. The main patterns are, classroom integration, partly in special class, full time in special class, Non resident students program, etc.

Classroom integration:

Classroom integration program means that the visually impaired children with additional mild and moderate disabilities stay in the original blind classes with their blind peers. As you might know, the Ministry of Education designed the teaching plan, the teaching guideline and the major curriculum for special schools for the Blind. All the special schools have been required to finish the task of teaching set by the Ministry of Education, and then the schools can have their own curriculums for some subjects. So the visually impaired children with additional mild and moderate disabilities have to meet the same expectations and goals, and have the same learning speed as all other students in the classrooms, but receive a little extra technical support services from resources teachers of the school.

Partly in special class

Partly in special class program means that the visually impaired children with additional moderate disabilities part time stay in the original blind or low vision classes. They take some lessons, such as music, art, physical, etc in the original blind class, but study the main courses in special class.

Full time in special class program

If the visually impaired children with serious disability can’t adapt to the common education, and they have to be arranged in a class specially intended for multi-handicapped children. The Courses and teaching in the class highly organized and meet their special needs.

Non resident students program

For some of reasons, those very young or have very serious disability children could not go to school every day. The parents can bring their children to school at fixed time every week, and teachers provide individual training for both children and parents.

  1. Principles

At present the 6 target Schools abide by the following rules with respect to the arrangement of the multi-handicapped children.

(1) The most of the Principles of placement is the least restriction for the multi-handicapped Children. We have set up full time special classes programs in 6 target schools, we think this placement is more restrictions for multi-handicapped Children since special classes separate the them from their peers. So full time special classes programs is the last placement to be considered.

(2) Based on the practical situation and special needs of the multi-handicapped children, the schools will conduct an initial screening, and then divide them into different classes and groups. Those with a serious disability will be grouped in the “Arousing Intelligence Class”, which is especially designed for the multi-handicapped children; for those with light and moderate disability, they will be arranged to study in normal classes. The students have tremendous differences, therefore, various and flexible patterns of placement should be experimented.

(3) The practical condition of the school will be taken into consideration. So far the project for the multi-handicapped children is just beginning, therefore, it is still not possible for many schools to open a special class for the multi-handicapped children due to the limitation in schoolhouses and teachers. Therefore some schools establish a resource room for the multi-handicapped children to provide instructions and assistance for them in a particular subject.

Education Pattern for Multi-handicapped Children

The pattern of education is a structure that enables the attainment of individual education plan (IEP). The patterns we adopts mainly include, group teaching, cooperative activity teaching and individual teaching

  1. Group teaching: In accordance with the students’ practical condition, teachers design practical teaching material themselves. While teaching, teachers will divide the students into groups according to their ability and peculiarity in study. So the group teaching is carried out when the objective and content are different. For example, while teaching functional curriculum the most frequently adopted method is group teaching.
  2. Cooperative teaching:            in the comprehensive thematic course, the mode of cooperative activity has been widely used. The so-called cooperative activity is the whole class participate in activities revolving around a certain task or theme. In addition, according to the difference among individuals, different tasks or tasks of different levels will be arranged, so that each student will be able to learn the necessary knowledge and skills from the same activity. Besides, students will also be able to obtain and share their experience. While designing cooperative activity, the following points should be noted.
  3. The classroom activity should center on “life”, with the purpose to solve the problems in practical life.
  4. While designing tasks or themes, teachers should try their best to touch upon other fields of study, so that the students’ ability in other aspect can also be developed.
  5. The task should have several levels of difficulties, with the objective that students of different abilities can all benefit from the course. When teaching “social adaptability” and “comprehensive theme”, the cooperative activity is often adopted.
  6. Individual teaching, i.e., one to one teaching or training, which intends to compensate for those who have special difficulties or deficiency. The resource classroom, rehabilitation training, and vocational training directed toward individuals often adopt this way of teaching.

Strategies on Teaching the Multi-handicapped Children

The following strategies are mostly frequently adopted in our teaching activities of all courses or subjects.

  1. To experience the whole process

The multi-handicapped children always have a one-sided view or understanding since they are unable to observe, with their own eyes, the whole process of development. Therefore, if the students, with the guidance of their teachers, can experience the whole process of activities it can help the students to get a better idea of the concept of the Whole. For instance, if a student wants to have some water, the teacher should bring him to the place where he can find cups and water, then tell him how to pour the water. After having it, the cup should be put back in the original place. In this way the student will know how to get water when thirsty. His life ability is improved in the mean time.

  1. Partial participation

Due to the restriction in ability, the multi-handicapped children can’t fulfill the requirement of all the techniques in some relatively complicated activities, but teachers should not forbid them from joining these activities. Instead, teachers should encourage students to participate the activity as much as they can so that they can put their skills to use and develop new skills. The ability to cooperate with others can also be enhanced by joining in the process of activities.

  1. Task analysis

To break a complicated task into several small sequential steps and let the students handle them one by one, and finally accomplish it with their own efforts. A better approach is to let the students begin from the last step, and gradually move forward. In their way the students can feel and experience the happiness of accomplishing a task.

  1. Appropriate assistance

Special attention should be paid to the extent of assistance while helping the students to complete a certain task. For some very serious multi-handicapped children, it is often difficult in the end for them to handle something alone. However, the decrease in the degree of assistance can reflect one’s progress. The degree of assistance can be classified into several different levels, from hand-over-hand whole process assistance to partial physical assistance, from physical prompt, language prompt, to finally complete the task. Teachers should record the situation when students need assistance and gradually decrease the extent, so as to enable the students to be independent or close to be independent.

  1. Timely reinforcement

The reinforcement strategy is frequently used in teaching. The selection of the objects to be consolidated or intensified should conform to the students like and level of acceptance. Timely reinforcement is very necessary; especially try not to intensify the misconduct of students due to the teachers’ inappropriate reaction.

Future development plans

  1. Take measures to reinforce the pattern of administration: the presently used approach urgently needs to be standardized and systematized, so as to guarantee the smooth operation of directive education. For example, to conduct the formulation of IEP at regular intervals, to make the evaluation methods more scientific and regularized.
  2. To open up more flexible ways of placement for the multi-handicapped children. As the number of the multi-handicapped children is increasing, their needs will be varied as well. Thus more types of placement should be worked out to cater to their needs, esp., to arrange some time for the multi-handicapped children to work or study together in normal classes with children of their own age group. For those very seriously disabled, placement should be made to develop family and family education plan.
  3. To formulate and perfect the curriculum. Courses suited to the multi-handicapped children should be worked out in a short time. Presently we are organizing some people to formulate course standards and textbooks with regard to comprehensive thematic courses. At high grades, vocational training course, which links closely to their future life, should be opened. The arrangement of the courses should be more flexible and break the traditional unitary subject course.
  4. The targets of the education will be more extensive. Importance should be attached to early interference for multi-handicapped children. Apart from children with compulsory education, education for the preschool children and infants should also be available, through family visits. For those exceed the free education age, adjustment can be made to provide vocational training based on their practical conditions.
  5. To develop specialized project on rehabilitation training, such as PT, OT, verbal or language treatment, and further reinforce the link between education and medical care. Meanwhile, try to establish contacts with professional medical organizations so as to make the rehabilitation and training more scientific and effective.
  6. To continue strengthening teachers and administrators training. This is a very important issue in the education for the multi-handicapped children in special schools. Understanding towards the importance of the work should be further enhanced. To continue organizing teachers to participate in training sessions, and conduct all kinds of in-service training, so that a large number of qualified teachers with special knowledge on the education for the multi-handicapped will be cultivated.
  7. With these efforts, we plan to organize a workshop 3 years later to duplicate and exchange the experience with regard to the education for the multi-handicapped children, and further expand the project for multi-handicapped children in the whole country.

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