Exploring in-service teachers' knowledge of teaching literacy using braille to Grade R visually impaired learners.
Teaching Literacy as a Learning Area is a compulsory and one of the most complex learning areas that every Grade R teacher should execute within the Foundation Phase years of schooling. This execution is regarded as complex and demanding when teaching sighted learners; however, it becomes even more complex if the teacher has to teach Literacy to visually impaired Grade R learners. In light of this complexity, researchers have endeavoured to explore the technological, pedagogical and content knowledge that teachers should possess for the effective teaching of Literacy in Foundation Phase classrooms. Efforts have been made to explore and illuminate the use of technological tools such Braille in order to understand their requirements in terms of content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and pedagogical content strategies. It was in this context that this study explored in-service teachers’ knowledge of using Braille and skills to teach Literacy to visually impaired Grade R learners. Understanding the different kinds of knowledge these teachers had was essential for comprehending how they integrated different teacher ‘knowledges’ in teaching literacy skills to Grade R learners who are visually impaired. It was overtly clear that such complex situations call for specialised teacher knowledge as well as their commitment to alleviate illiteracy among learners who are visually impaired. The study was conducted in a school in Maseru, Lesotho and employed a qualitative case study approach. Three in-service teachers teaching Grade R learners who were visually impaired were purposively sampled. An interpretive paradigm was adopted for this study in order to understand how the participants interpreted their world and their encounters. Data were generated through semi-structured interviews and structured classroom observations during the teaching of literacy. Document analysis was also conducted in order to understand how the participants’ daily work plans, lesson plans, assessment activities and recordings were planned and structured. The findings revealed that some teachers exhibited good knowledge of technology, although they somehow failed to integrate the use of Braille and literacy teaching. The participants seemed to teach Braille as a ‘standalone’ subject, whereas it is supposed to be integrated with other subjects as well as with literacy teaching. This study can be replicated in a wider area and in different contexts. The study concluded that in-service teachers showed limited knowledge of some of the domains of teaching literacy to Grade R learners who are visually impaired.