12 July 2024

Thai PBS World spoke to Boonprasert Sattanusorn, a blind educator, about the hardships and difficulties faced by blind teachers in the education system.

Boonprasert said that “External factors, which blind people cannot control as a teacher, plus the system or the structure inside the school do not support them. That’s the first thing they have to overcome by themselves. Like the school infrastructure, they don’t have any lifts, accessible libraries or other accessible facilities. They don’t have them in general schools in Thailand I would say.”

Other than the lack of infrastructure for the blind, the school’s attitude towards these educators is also somewhat problematic.

“The attitude of school directors and colleagues, when they accept blind people to be a teacher at the school, can be problematic, but not severe problems. Blind teachers have to deal with this and answer questions, all questions. How can you teach or live inside the school? How can you get around the school? That is the attitude that directors and colleagues don’t understand.”

Blind people also face difficulties in using softwares developed in Thailand and the Ministry of Education, saying that programs are not designed to meet the needs of the visually impaired.

“People might wonder how the blind use a computer. How can the blind use the software? How can the blind deal with the equipment? Actually, however, we can use the google meeting app and docs, except software written in Thailand or by the Ministry of Education, that’s not accessible.”

“The problem is not the teachers who are visually impaired, it’s about the people, this country. When you write software you have to think of people with disabilities too.”

Feedback from students learning from blind teachers has been quite positive, Boonprasert also added that students might offer a helping hand to blind teachers by helping them through the lunchrooms or even running small errands to convenience stores.

“The ministry of education, in my opinion, does not consider this minority group. When they want to know if any teachers need support from the ministry, particularly in this situation, with the COVID-19 outbreak, they always forget the minority groups.”

The number of blind educators is a scarce number, but the positive impact on students learning about diversity at an early age can be beneficial to society in the long run.

By Stephanie Adair