Dr. Sally French is Associate Lecturer at the Open University and a freelance researcher and writer. She is visually impaired and went through special education herself. Dr. French has worked in the field of disability studies for many years.
2006 0-7734-5706-2 By means of 61 open-ended interviews with visually impaired people (written as stories) and an analysis of documentary evidence, this book explores the history of education for visually impaired children in Britain from the 18th century to the present day. The sample is broad in terms of age, gender, type of school, geographical location and the presence of additional impairments. It provides a rich source of information regarding specific educational experiences (for example, in Sunshine Homes and selective schools) and also reflects on institutionalization, regimentation, abuse, the effects of separation from home and community and the importance of friendship. College experiences and the transition to adulthood and employment are also emphasized in many stories. As well as highlighting common experiences, the stories depict great diversity and illustrate how educational trends and practices for visually impaired children changed throughout this period. The final chapter reflects on the lessons than can be learned from these accounts regarding the inclusion of visually impaired children in mainstream school today. It demonstrates the complexity of the concept of inclusion and how this requires changes within society as a whole rather than just within schools. The book adds to the growing history of disabled people from their own perspective.