Background to this presentation
This presentation was created after interviewing:
• 2 x Senior RTVs (25 yrs and 8 yrs experience)
• 1 x RTV (7 yrs)
• 3 x Managers of Visual Resource Centers (5 yrs, 7 yrs and 8 yrs experience)
• 1 x Orientation & Mobility Instructor (7 yrs experience)
• 1 x Specialist Consultant in Complex Needs Education (20 yrs experience)
What is a Resource
Teacher of Vision?
A specialist teacher who assists students
who are blind or have a vision
They work closely with parents, teachers
and other specialists to help students
prepare for, start and settle into an early
childhood service or school. They
continue the support throughout school
and the assist in the transition to life
beyond the classroom.
Their focus is upon:
“As Resource Teachers of
Vision we follow a child‟s
journey through life.
We‟re very privileged in
The Child is at the centre of all we do…
We begin by meeting the child, and the whanau. Gathering information about their observations and experiences, what
they have found works (or not!) and ascertaining their hopes and aspirations for the future. We strongly believe in a
whanau-centric approach to service delivery; by supporting the family, we support the child.
Our main aim is to improve the child‟s ability to learn and access the curriculum, so they can meet their potential. This
with teachers to
access to direct &
liaising with a
O&M, ADL, PT,
SLT) to allow
access to the
with families and
children one to one
to support their
such as how to
resources to meet
the special (tactile)
needs of students.
“It is important to remember that
the parents and whanau are the
prime educators in their child‟s
learning and they are at the
centre of all collaboration…”
Cultural Responsiveness &
An understanding of the concept and role of culture
Recognising your own cultural values, practices and beliefs
Understanding the concepts of biculturalism and
The BLENNZ Culture
The Blind and Low Vision
Education Network NZ employs
approximate 125 Specialist
Teachers who are based in 12
BLENNZ is working hard to
overcome the geographical
distance to create a common
culture across the organisation,
which is supportive of all our
students, families, staff and
The culture within the BLENNZ Community of Practice
RTVs promote equitable learning outcomes for all our learners, within Aotearoa‟s
increasingly multicultural population. This means that that RTVs put considerable time into
professional development to become aware of and gain knowledge/understanding of, as
well as respect for, the different languages, heritages and cultural expectations of our
students and their whānau.
The special place of tangata whenua within Aotearoa is recognised in all decisions made by
BLENNZ which in turn, influences the daily work of RTVs nationwide. Collaboration with
Ngati Kapo o Aotearoa and other specialist groups such as local iwi , marae and group such
as Te Whanau o Homai is a vital component of all strategic documents and planning.
Time is allocated each term to up-skill staff in te reo, tikanga, the history/principals of Te
Tiriti o Waitangi and current Maori Achievement policy documents such as Ka Hikitia.
Examples of supports for cultural responsiveness
Partnership Protection Participation
• Blennz work in partnership
with Ngāti Kapō o Aotearoa
and local kaumatua and
Marae when creating all
inviting them to all events.
• Blennz supports Te Whānau
o Homai and seeks their
input into policy making.
• Students from Blennz
Homai campus & satellite
classes visit local Marae to
form links and reinforce
their learning of te reo.
• Assessments, resources and
translations in Te Reo
(which are appropriate to
iwi preferences) are
provided for Maori learners,
whanau and schools.
• All RTVs aim to develop
and maintain a sense of
manaakitanga in the
classroom and their
communities of practice.
• Hui/IEP are based on
Hauora Māori concepts to
allow Whānau to feel more
• RTVs are encouraged and
expected to undertake PD in
Te Tiriti, te reo and tikanga
annually – this includes
training on the history of Te
Tiriti, Ka Hikitia
implementation & biweekly
“…it is often taking a step back and gaining a
better understanding of a family‟s story [and
culture] before we leap in and make decisions
[which] can often give us a better richness to
assist us with what we are trying to achieve,
which is successful outcomes for all learners”
VRC Co-ordinator, 2013
Historical and current perspectives on special education,
inclusive education, disability and diversity
Knowledge of human development and learning theory
Legislation, policy and curriculum documents
History of Service Delivery
In the past students with a vision impairment were encouraged into special schools run
by the Foundation of the Blind in Parnell and Homai. Overtime, there was a worldwide
theoretical shift and a move towards inclusion occurred within New Zealand. The
increase in „mainstreaming‟ resulted in the need for a greater number of RTVs to work
with students in their new school settings and to liaise between teachers who were
insufficiently trained in special needs, student‟s families and other specialist support
staff. The RTV became the key advocate of the vision impaired learner.
The streamlining of services and collaboration between BLENNZ and the RNZFB is
still occurring. The specialist teacher component of ORS funding has been transferred
to BLENNZ, as have much of the Orientation and Mobility services provision.
Considerations now focus on teacher aide resourcing and other funding, which would
see RTV‟s role become even wider, effectively becoming a true „jack of all trades‟ and
lynchpin in all transdisciplinary teams.
A major part of the RTV role is promoting and facilitating inclusive education. This means
that we encourage others to value all students in all aspects of school and identify/remove
barriers to their participating and achievement. We encourage educators to find ways to
allow students to take part in all aspects of education alongside their peers, whilst ensuring
that their individual learning needs are addressed. A large part of this is strengths based
Research such as that by Joy Zobala on SETT alongside studies into the physical and
technological utility of universal design indicate that inclusive education best supports
learners if there are enough resources, support and professional development provided –
at present this is inconsistent across schools so in some instances students can better access
resources/support in non-inclusive settings e.g. special schools for deaf-blind students.
Views on non-inclusive settings are mixed. Many suggest that the way forward is to not
focus on the promotion of inclusion, but rather focus on engagement instead because if “a
child is included they are engaged, when they are engaged they are learning” (Specialist
Consultant on Complex Needs, 2013)
Enablers & Barriers for Inclusive Education
Enablers for Inclusive Education Barriers for Inclusive Education
• BLENNZ‟s increasing profile which allows for the
creation and promotion of strong and successful
supportive connections between the student, whānau,
school and other professionals.
• Ensuring the teacher/peers look at the student first
before their disability.
• Changing the attitudes of teachers/school leaders
through mentoring and professional development which
is underpinned by educational research and evidence
• Fostering positive attitudes towards high expectations
and achievement for vision impaired students.
• Providing support for meaningful assessment.
• Providing culturally responsive teaching for students.
• The team need to include issues around inclusion in IEPs
and when planning classroom programmes.
• Negative school culture and organisation
• Deficit thinking and attitudes including
categorising/labelling students which emphasises
difference and defines students by their disability.
• Classroom teachers time-poor, limited time to meet with
RTVS, discuss and plan for students needs.
• Lack of teacher training/on-going professional
• Schools unwilling to pay for teacher aide professional
• Lack of resources and time to create them.
• Teachers passing responsibility for adapted teaching
programs to teacher aide and spending too much time
working in withdrawal from the classroom
• Geographical location can make it difficult for students to
access services and teachers to access support.
What does an
RTV need to
know and do?
The role of the RTV is
a mix of hands on,
liaising with a wide
range of people
involved with the
What skills and knowledge do RTVs have?
knowledge of normal and delayed child development
knowledge of blindness and vision impairment
skill in managing blindness and vision needs in a variety of settings
knowledge of psychology and education theory and child development
knowledge of community and family support services
excellent communication, teaching, research, planning and administration skills.
One of the job‟s
challenges is to change
people‟s perceptions of
what blind and low vision
children can do…”
Knowledge of Learner Development
Project Prism‟s research suggests that
whilst there is some delay in the
achievement of childhood milestones for
those with a visual impairment, those
who are receiving services/support may
have less of a impact than initially
believed. They seem to be losing 1/10th
of a month per month as they age up to 3
years. Findings suggest that the degree
of visual disability is not the issue in a
visually impaired child’s development,
rather the way we teach the skills and
overcome deficit thinking – this is the
message that RTVs share with others.
Project Prism‟s findings support many of the theories of learning and development which guide the
work of RTVs, including:
• Lev Vygotsky‟s socio-cultural theory
• Lillli Neilson‟s Active Learning theory
• Jan van Dyke‟s Child-Guided Assessment theory
These are then combined with a variety of other educational and cultural-guiding documents to
determine policy and evidence-based practice:
• Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success
• Pasifika Education Plan
• Tātaiako: Cultural competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners
• BLENNZ Maori Strategy Plan 2013
• Te Whariki: Early Childhood Curriculum, The New Zealand Curriculum Framework and
Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.
We are also strongly guided by an informal skills based program known as „The Expanded
Expanded Core Curriculum
The Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) facilitates access to the
New Zealand Curriculum for students who have a vision
impairment. It teaches specific skills required to access the
curriculum and aspects of daily life, which sighted students may
learn through indirect methods. There are 7 key areas of the ECC,
The most visible aspect of this can be seen
through the creation of alternative formats
creation, through the RNZFB Library, and
specialist teaching of Braille. It also includes
speaking and listening skills and concept
To see an example of this click here
“Availability does not
Boguslaw Marek, 2013
Development of Visual Efficiency Skills
This may include the completion of a Functional Vision Assessment, Learning Media
Assessment, Visual Environmental audit/adaptations and specific Visual Efficiency
This may include specific training on using optical aides, using
augmentative/alternative communication devices and maximising the residual vision
that they possess.
This includes skills required for
students to enjoy physical and
leisure-time activities. Most
often this involves strategies
and recommended teaching
adaptations to allow students to
actively participate in physical
and social activities, following
rules in games and maintaining
their safety when undertaking
PE (especially team sports and
fast ball games).
Equipment Image Preferred
Orange Yellow Yellow -
Yellow Red Yellow -
Soccer Ball Blue Blue Blue -
Red Red Red
Hula Hoop - Blue or
Red Hall: Blue or
Developmental Orientation and Mobility
“Orientation and Mobility is about knowing where you are, where you are
going and getting there safely” Arrian, 2013
O&M is not just cane skills, it also includes:
Concept Development – body and spatial awareness, positional and
directional concepts, environmental and object knowledge etc.
Motor Development – movement, gross and fine motor skills, balance,
posture and gait
Sensory Development – tactile, aural/echo location, smell, temperature, kinesthetic,
proprioception, haptic etc
Social Skills – interacting with others, body language, soliciting or refusing assistance, personal
Mobility Skills – guiding techniques, self protective and positional techniques, use of mobility
devices and canes.
To find out more about O&M click
To see an example of this click here
Social skills are learned through visual observation, imitation, experiential learning and play.
Students who have a vision impairment at an early age tend to miss out on many of these learning
opportunities unless they are directly guided and encouraged to physically explore the world
around them. (Sacks & Silberman, 2000) Because visually impaired students may have a
decreased understanding of the context of social interactions and an inability to read non-verbal
cues, their ability to choose appropriate initiation or responses can be compromised which then
has flow on effects in their relationships with others. Therefore it is vital that visually impaired
students are directly guided in the five elements of social behaviour:
Participating in groups
Acceptance of others‟ opinions (Palmer, 2013)
Parents and professionals need to work together to develop these social behaviour strategies, so
that eventually they become part of the child‟s natural behaviour and interaction.
These are specific daily living skills which are taught to allow the student to function
as independently as possible at school and at home. It may include areas such as:
• Personal hygiene and grooming
• Time management, goal setting etc
• Cooking and cleaning
• Money Management
• Career planning, responsibilities, job experience
To see an example of tertiary transitioning click here
To see an example of daily living skills click here
This involves teaching how to use and
maximise devices such as computers,
tablets, speech software, daisy readers and
other equipment such as labellers to make it
easier to function at home and school.
A lot of access to braille comes in electronic
format and therefore it is vital for students
to be digitally literate if they are to engage
with their academic potential. Similarly, for
those with a minor visual impairment,
learning skills such as touch-typing allow
for maximised use of equipment and
prepares them better for employment once
they leave school.
To see an example of this click here
“I keep telling one of my students
that he‟s going to be a taxpayer.
That‟s the aim for all our
students…its another way of saying
that we want them to be part of
society and to be independent.”
Professional Learning & Identity
Social Learning Networks
RTVs need to be digitally literate and willing to constantly up-skill, to ensure they are up to date
with current assistive technology and accessibility options .
New Zealand has a small number of RTVs servicing a small population of vision impaired
learners. BLENNZ staff are working hard to share dialogue and offer assistance, allowing
geographically isolated RTVs to access the knowledge, skills and resources of RTVs nationwide.
This need is met through 2 online resources:
The BLENNZ Development site – a closed group for staff, to allow internal knowledge
sharing, problem solving, dialogue.
The BLENNZ Learning Library – a public site, sharing real stories about learning and
To access new theories, research and evidence based techniques, global networking, particularly
online is essential. RTVs rely heavily on the work of The Texas School for the Blind, Perkins
Institute and others, but are increasingly receiving feedback that BLENNZ online contributions
through the Learning Library are being utilised by professionals overseas for their own up-
skilling and course material…therefore, NZ RTVs are contributing to an international dialogue.
The BLENNZ Learning Library
A public site, sharing real stories about learning and assessments for students aged 0-21
in all educational settings. Stories are divided into age groups and key competencies,
covering both the Core and Expanded Core Curriculum.
knowledge of my
sessions at VRC
practice on the
at sites such as
as Ulearn & The
Ethical and Reflective Practice
Becoming an ethical and reflective practitioner
Codes of Practice
RTVs are guided by several codes of ethics and guiding principals, these include:
Ethics are extremely important for RTVs because their role means they are always in
someone elses‟ space (i.e classroom, home etc.) They are also privy to a lot of personal
information about students and family dynamics that other teachers and professionals
do not have access to. By working in both the home and school, we can be placed in
very vulnerable situations so RTVs need to be very clear about their ethical and
What does this mean in practice?
Autonomy – treating people with rights that are to be honoured and defended
Justice – sharing the power and preventing its abuse
Responsibility - caring, doing „good‟ and minimising harm to others
Truthfulness – being honest with others and self
Respect – for the student, family and other professionals, also respecting the special rights
endowed by Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
When reflecting upon our effectiveness, we consider 4 main areas:
the parents and
Evidence Based Practice
Sharing professional knowledge and skills
Reflecting on and contributing to communities of learning and practice
Knowledge of evidence based and effective teaching and learning practices
RTVS work with a wide range of people, some of these include:
• Classroom Teacher
• Teacher Aide
• Reading Recovery
• BLENNZ National
• MOE Technology Co-
• Resource Teacher
Learning & Behaviour
• Resource Teacher
• RNZFB Social
• RNZFB Alternative
Formats Library staff
• Orientation &
• Speech Language
• Physical Therapist
• Music Therapist
What does this look like?
Sharing knowledge of simple
adaptations – using a yellow high
vis ball for sports.
development/formal training to
What does this look like?
Collaborating at IEPs, progress
meetings, on ORS and Assistive
Working beyond the classroom/
home collaboratively on O&M
programs, attending medical clinics
Knowledge of assessment models and practices
Comparing assessment practices across specialist areas
Knowledge of assistive technologies
To raise student achievement, RTVs must ensure that they are facilitating and utilising
effective assessment. There are a variety of different types of assessment which we deal with
on a daily basis, these include:
Medical and Visual
Academic Assessment Informal (observational) and
Functional (Daily Living)
• Opthalmology/ Opticician
• Functional Vision
• Paediatrician Reports
• OT/SL/PT etc Assessment
• National Assessment Team
• Running Records, STAR
• Probe, IKAN
• AsTTle, PATs
• Orientation and Mobility
• Technology Assessments
• Learning Media Assessments
• Classroom/home observations
• Discussions with student,
whānau, teachers and others
involved in the child‟s life
• Oregon Project
Summary: What does an RTV do?
Support the student and
whanau at home and in
with a range of
Planning goals through
Advocate for the unique needs
of learners and families of
those with a vision
Assist the student to
access the curriculum
& modified resources
settings and from school
to post-school life
Give objective, accurate
feedback verbally and
in written form.
Apply for Assistive technology
Participate in trans-
for individuals and
schools on vision
Arrian, S (2013) Teaming O & M and Teaching, Powerpoint Presentation], 2013 SPEVI Conference, Rendezvous
Hotel, Auckland, 14 January 2013
Ferrell, K (2013), Longitudinal Study of the Development of Children with Visual Impairment, Powerpoint
Presentation], 2013 SPEVI Conference, Rendezvous Hotel, Auckland, 13 January 2013
Higgins, N. and Stobbs, K (2013), Improving educational services for kapo Maori: What does our research suggest
[Powerpoint Presentation], 2013 SPEVI Conference, Rendezvous Hotel, Auckland, 17 January 2013
Marek, B (2013), From a tactile graphics primer to confident use of raised drawings, maps and diagrams
[Presentation Notes], 2013 SPEVI Conference, Rendezvous Hotel, Auckland, 14 January 2013.
Ministry of Education (2012), Working in Special Education: Resource Teacher of Vision, Ministry of Education,
Palmer, C (2013) Social Behaviour: Developing skills and reducing difference [Powerpoint Presentation], 2013
SPEVI Conference, Rendezvous Hotel, Auckland, 17 January 2013
Perzylo, N (2013), The Penfriend: Not just your ordinary voice labeller, [Powerpoint Presentation], 2013 SPEVI
Conference, Rendezvous Hotel, Auckland, 16 January 2013.
Sacks, S.Z., & Silberman, R.K. (2000). Social skills. In A.J. Koenig & M. C. Holbrook, Foundations of Education, 2nd
edn. Volume 11: Instructional strategies for teaching children and youths with visual impairments. New
York: American Foundation for the Blind.
Stewart, N (2013) The Role of the Resource Teacher of Vision [Powerpoint], presented at the BLENNZ Low Vision
Inservice Day, Homai Campus, Auckland.
Story, M. (1998) The Universal Design File: Designing for People of All Ages and Abilities, North Carolina, USA, NC
State University Press.
Zabala, J.S (2005)Using the SETT Framework to Level the Learning Field for Students with Disabilities, retrieved
All images in this presentation were taken by Aimee Peterken throughout 2012-2-13 unless
specifically stated below.
Slide 5: Left image: Unknown Author (2009) Child reading braille [image] retrieved from
Parent of a Child with Albinism, http://www.parentofachildwithalbinism.com/manager/wp-
Slide 29: Heck, J.D (2010) Pouring into a cup [image] retrieved from Lighthouse for the
Verbal permissions received from all parents of children shown in this presentation.