Children with MDVI have a visual impairment and at least one other disability, which could be cognitive, developmental, hearing- or mobility-related. Children with MDVI might communicate in ways that are different from other people — a child might be nonverbal or use sign language — they may not process visual cues to understand their surroundings the way someone with typical vision does. These circumstances require special adaptations of environment and teaching interventions to ensure children with MDVI are included and to teach them about the world around them.
Multiple disabilities have a compounding effect on a child's challenges. Interventions that work for a single disability don't necessarily work for children with MDVI because of the compounding effect of additional disabilities.
In India, as in many countries around the world, social taboos associated with disabilities often leave children with MDVI marginalized in their own communities. Most schools exclude children with MDVI, considering them too complex to teach.
At Perkins India, we have learned — through three decades of work on the ground in India — that changing this is a multi-step process. First, the children with MDVI must be identified in a systematic and uniform way. Simultaneously, we must provide better training for teachers, giving them both new skills and supportive networks to ensure children are given the best opportunities to learn. And finally, government systems need to change, both in terms of the educational opportunities presented to children, as well as in the way their families are supported and informed about the resources available to them.
Quite simply, these children are the least likely to be given educational opportunities.
At Perkins India, we believe that all children can learn and have gifts to share, because we see every day how education transforms a child's life for the better.