KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knox County Schools Vision Department is a small part of the district, but they play a big role in the lives of dozens of blind and visually impaired students.

A team of braillist, teachers of the visually impaired and orientation and mobility specialists are working together to ensure students recognize they are completely capable of engaging and succeeding in the classroom.

“Accessibility is everything for a visually impaired student with the right tools and the right help, it’s not a disability. We level the playing field,” said Aaron Taylor, certified teacher of the visually impaired.

Janet French is a braillist. She takes worksheets, scans them into the computer, and then a printer spits out the embossed pages. Digital tools are also available, like the BrailleNote Touch tablet.

Lauren Switzer, a teacher and orientation and mobility specialist, says every vision-impaired child is different meaning every approach is different, but the goal is the same, prepare them to be independent adults.

“We are working on their concepts of spatial awareness, different routes, even up to public transportation and how they may get around outside of the school in their future,” said Switzer.

She also believes it’s about realizing the capability of their students and giving them the tools to succeed. Metro, Knox and Shelby County schools all have vision departments. Other districts in the state have a vision teacher or will contract out for services.

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