In Vietnam, a common problem faced by visually impaired people is isolation. There aren’t many opportunities for socialisation and skills development for the blind as they are largely excluded from mainstream education. Our goal here at ACCV is to change that!
Play & Learn ran its first session on December 17th 2016, it is Hanoi’s first play and support group for visually impaired pre-school children and their parents. This programme consisted of fortnightly playgroup type meetups that provided mums and dads with support and a social network while their children learned and played with educational toys and games. It was a simple, yet significant opportunity for children to engage in social opportunities and learn just as their sighted peers do, as well as providing a chance for disempowered parents to connect with each other.
The Play & Learn sessions involved simple structured and unstructured sensory play, informally driving key skills development in the children. During free time they had a range of materials to aid in developing motor and fine motor skills, while group time encouraged social interaction for the children and parents. The whole session aimed to informally enhance visually impaired children’s physical, emotional, social and language skills.
This program was developed in response to a community need, parents of blind children very often identify as feeling excluded, concerned for their children’s development and worried about the future. Alarmingly, based on known figures 80.2% to 86.8% of blind or visually impaired children in Hanoi may be receiving an inadequate education or none at all. Key developmental milestones are reached when a child is at a pre-school age. Sadly, there is an abundance of visually impaired children who are isolated; which leads to inadequate social and educational opportunities further excluding them from mainstream society.
These figures have become a reality because early intervention services, which target key skills development for pre-school aged visually impaired children are almost entirely lacking, irrelevant or far too expensive, especially as many families are already facing financial hardships.
With the help of Systems Little House, HIWC and the Vietnam Institute of Educational Sciences, ACCV aided in breaking the cycle of isolation for visually impaired children and their parents. For all of the past stories from our Play & Learn program you can read our blog posts here!