This summer we often talked about participatory learning as a core element of LTP. In this broader definition of LTP (learning through participation), the method can be used with students with special needs—such as those with vision impairment.
In working with seven-year-old Lisa Lukas Lawena we attempted to modify LTP by making the images tactile. Using macaroni we created shapes including a square, heart, a circle, and a tree. Though our teaching aids were very rudimentary, they still had their intended impact. Lisa wrote labels for the different objects on a brailler and matched her labels with the different shapes by feeling them first. Throughout the process Lisa was engaged and excited. Much of her enthusiasm grew from reading the words and sentences she had just written. This is the crux of participatory learning. Already a motivated learner, Lisa became even more invested in her work. Instead of a textbook being the authority on learning, Lisa occupied a powerful position of teacher-student.
LTP must be modified to build upon the strengths of blind students—hearing and feeling—and by doing so it remains as useful a method of teaching as in the general student population. What makes LTP a particularly powerful teaching tool is its ability to capture students’ attention and enhance retention by giving students authority to teach themselves and their peers. Because students are working not only to understand material, but also explain it to others they consider it more thoroughly. Instead of copying information verbatim from a blackboard, students must think and act. Learning through feeling, or learning through doing are interpretations of LTP that can be used for the same effect in a blind classroom.