"I walked into my maiden postgraduate IP law class (exclusively non-UK/EU students) yesterday, and I discovered that one of my students is blind. Nobody had informed me in advance.This Kat has no personal experience of teaching blind students, though he well remembers his student days when one of his college friends, who was deaf, received no assistance at all and was even required to attend supervisions in which he was unable to participate, in order to satisfy university regulations. If any readers have experience, ideas or information, can they please share them -- ideally as soon as possible! Please post your comments below or email them to the IPKat here.
However, everyone is most concerned about how best to support the student. I have contacted the UK Intellectual Property Office who will be able to help out with audio files; I am hopeful that the EPO and WIPO can also offer some support. I have had a rake on the internet for IP texts in Braille, and - predictably – found very, very little. At this time I am very unsure that the University can offer adequate support at such short notice, for example in respect of converting academic texts into Braille or audio recordings. It is all very complicated at the moment!
My other concern is what I can do to integrate him into class debates, to enable him to participate. Yesterday, it worked very well when the class was split into groups for initial discussions/brain-storming on IP generally. But I am really unsure in what way I should adapt my teaching methodology. At the moment, we have to work with three-hour timetabled slots which I use to provide some input (usually with help of PowerPoints) for about 40-50 minutes, and then seminar discussions on a topic which students had time to prepare for in advance (tailored topics plus reading list). Sometimes, students present on a particular issue, or there are library exercises.
I wonder whether you have any experience in integrating blind students into a class-room setting, or maybe you know a colleague who does? Also, would you know of any ports of call where I could get audio files on IP law subject matter, or information in Braille?
I am very sorry to spring this on you, but I would be eternally grateful for any advice you are able to provide!".