Original Research

Challenges of teaching the deaf-blind learner in an education setting in Johannesburg: Experiences of educators and assistant educators

Tejal Manga, Khetsiwe P. Masuku
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 67, No 1 | a649 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v67i1.649 | © 2020 Tejal Manga; Khetsiwe P. Masuku | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 July 2019 | Published: 11 June 2020

About the author(s)

Tejal Manga, Speech Pathology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; and Speech Pathology and Audiology Department, Tembisa Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa
Khetsiwe P. Masuku, Speech Pathology and Audiology Department, Tembisa Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Background: Evidence suggests that educators of deaf-blind students in the South African context have specific challenges in the educational setting because of their lack of adequate knowledge on deaf-blindness and a lack of sufficient training on communication, teaching and learning strategies.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to describe the challenges experienced by educators and assistant educators of children with deaf-blindness.

Method: Ten educators and assistant educators were selected purposively to participate in the study (Male = 3; Female = 7; age range 31–49 years). Participants were recruited from a school for the deaf-blind in Johannesburg. Participants completed semi-structured interviews on the challenges that they experienced when educating learners who are deaf-blind.

Results: Findings from the data after inductive thematic analysis suggested the following: (1) under-preparedness of educators and assistant educators, (2) communication challenges, (3) challenges related to the diversity of deaf-blind learners and (4) lack of support structures for educators and assistant educators.

Conclusion: There is a need for ongoing educator training on communication strategies, cultural diversity and inclusive strategies. A collaborative model of delivering training and inclusive education that will encompass educators and therapists as a means of supporting both the educator and the learner who is deaf and blind is needed. Such a collaboration may result in positive outcomes for both the educator and the deaf-blind learner.


deaf-blindness; learners; educators; inclusive education; challenges; South Africa.


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Crossref Citations

1. Quality of Life in Deafblind People and Its Effect on the Processes of Educational Adaptation and Social Inclusion in Canary Islands, Spain
María del Carmen Rodríguez-Jiménez, David Pérez-Jorge, Irene Puerta-Araña, Eva Ariño-Mateo
Education Sciences  vol: 12  issue: 7  first page: 490  year: 2022  
doi: 10.3390/educsci12070490