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Wednesday, 4 December, 2002, 11:55 GMT
Blind boy breaks education barriers
Robert at Ysgol Maes Hyfryd in Cynwyd near Corwen
Robert is taught alongside his friends from his village
A blind seven-year-old boy has broken down education barriers to become the first child in Denbighshire to be taught bilingually through Braille in a mainstream school.

Robert Williams, a pupil at Ysgol Maes Hyfryd in Cynwyd near Corwen, is taught in the same classroom as friends from his village.


Other things I like about school are my friends who tell me jokes and make me laugh - I also like my teacher

Robert Williams

If the local authority had not allowed him to fully integrate, he may have been forced to attend a school specifically for youngsters who cannot see.

The boy's mum Diane Williams said allowing Robert to learn alongside his friends is like a dream come true.

"Robert loves reading books and he's able to read and follow the same books as his classmates," she said.

"He can follow Braille through the medium of Welsh and English.

Sian Edwards teaches Robert's class
Sian Edwards: Robert has integrated well

Welsh Braille books have been supplied for Robert and he follows the National Curriculum and the school's programme of work.

He has an assistant teacher who stays with him throughout the day as well as the classroom teacher Sian Edwards.

Robert said he finds the equipment easy to use and he enjoys spending time in the classroom.

"I use my computer to write up my school work. I also use it to play games.

Integrated

"Other things I like about school are my friends who tell me jokes and make me laugh - I also like my teacher," he said.

The boy, who joined Ysgol Maes Hyfryd when he was four, uses a Brailler, laptop computer and an embosser which enables him to write and to print out material in Braille form.

Sian Edwards, who teaches Robert alongside his classmates said he takes part in all school activities and has settled in well.

"Robert does exactly the same work as all the other children.

Robert Williams
Robert Williams receives one-on-one lessons

"Outside the classroom he takes part in lots of different sports.

"During playtime he knows exactly where everything is because of the mobility lessons he has received.

"It's important for Robert to feel completely integrated at all levels," she said.

Software has enabled the youngster to keep up with his lessons and it is hoped other councils will allow any visually impaired children to attend mainstream schools.

Jill Timothy a support worker for the visually impaired said there was lots of equipment to help blind children receive mainstream school education.


More from north east Wales
See also:

22 Nov 02 | Health
15 Oct 02 | N Ireland
03 Oct 02 | Science/Nature
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