časopis pro pedagogiku v souvislostech * journal of education in contexts
Ročník: 2014Volume: 2014
Číslo: 2Issue: 2
Vyšlo: 31.prosince 2014Published: December 31st, 2014
Olayi, James Eburikure - Ewa, James Abua. Importance of Concept Development in Sighted and Visually Impaired Children in an Inclusive Environment. Paidagogos, [Actualized: 2014-12-31], [Cited: 2024-07-14], 2014, 2, #6. P. . Availiable at: <>


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Importance of Concept Development in Sighted and Visually Impaired Children in an Inclusive Environment

James Eburikure Olayi - James Abua  Ewa

Abstrakt: This paper highlights the meaning of concept development in relation to orientation and mobility of visually impaired, blind and even the sighted children. Techniques to help children develop good concepts such as shapes of objects, street configurations, grid patterns, building layouts and descriptive terms in relation to shapes and objects were considered. The importance of concept development in both sighted and blind children, namely; basic concepts as a factor for motivating environmental exploration, body concepts, parts of the body and their functions. Concepts related to travel; schooling and daily living activities are discussed. It further considered body image in relation to concept development, spatial and environmental concepts. The role of a specialist teacher in Orientation and Mobility as well as the assessment of concept development in sighted and blind children was examined.

Keywords: Mobility, Visually Impaired, Concept Development.

Acknowledgement: This article is one of the outcomes of the research project funded by IGA Palacky University Olomouc _2013_013 Czech Republic.


Concept development refers to the basic understanding that is necessary to make sense of one’s world. This includes ideas about self and others, objects and the environment. The foundation understanding is crucial to communication, travel and independence. While typical/normal children usually develop an understanding of basic concepts through incidental learning, children with a combined vision and hearing loss must often be taught these same concepts through repeated exposure in an intentional manner (National Center on Deaf-blindness 2013).

The world around us can be better all inclusive when it is friendly and receptive. An environment that is inclusive provides for all persons including persons with visual impairment or Deaf-blind that is considering natural setting, designs and the application of assistive techniques. Developing and nurturing concept in both sighted and visually impaired children in an inclusive educational setting thus become imperative for lifelong functioning.

Concepts and ideas that children and adults develop about their world occur through seeing, hearing events over time, moving in and interacting with the world around them. Children who are visually impaired, blind or Deaf- blind unlike their sighted counterparts due to sensory loss may not be able to develop concepts using similar modalities. These children also lack motivation to seek out new situations in their environment because vision and auditory cues play a primary role as source of stimulation for all children learning experiences.

Through vision, children in a learning process easily develop concept of objects, environment and events with perfect pictures permanently in mind. To evolve a good concepts development in both sighted and blind children, the instruction should be individualize, provide concrete experiences, give them opportunities to learn by doing and experience situations because this is a vital ingredient in the formulation of meaningful concepts development. Concept development therefore becomes a vital tool for effective teaching and learning as well as the overall development of the blind and sighted children.

Ataha (2002) observes that there are individual differences in the developmental patterns. Although this may be similar to all, each child follows this predictable pattern in his/her own way and at his/her rate. All children do not reach the same point in physical, cognitive and concept development at the same age. There are differences in the hereditary, potentials and environmental support systems of the individual. The importance of early concept development lies in the fact that it forms the foundation of later development. Good physical and mental potentials can be seriously damaged by unfavorable environment conditions during prenatal; and postnatal life. The development of concepts is the foundation of academic, social and psychomotor learning.

However, the Light Magazine (2012) reporting on teachers’ efforts to bring to the understanding of young blind children age 1-3, in a predominantly visually impaired learning environment noted that the use of primarily the sense of touch for understanding the world is a limitation because perception of ‘form’ will be limited only to such objects which can be held by hand. Whereas, larger objects like mountains, trees, houses or buildings and other phenomena that are out of the environment of the visually handicapped cannot be reached through feelings. In a demonstration with 10 children, 6 of who were with residual vision not enough to provide reasonable information and 4 totally blind, verbal information providing explanation to the children was found useful although a true knowledge of such objects was difficult to build upon.

In this paper, the focus is on the relevance of concept development in the blind and sighted children. Also discussed are the relevance of spatial and environmental concepts as they affect the development of a child.

Meaning of concept development:

Onuzurike (2001) defines concept development as understanding knowledge or formulated thought that provides a background for future learning. It is also an idea or a general notion about something. Abosi and Ozoji (1985) discussed a framework helpful for basic concepts development, which though interrelated, can be divided into three main classes:

Furthermore, in the opinion of Hill and Blasch (1980) concept development is a mental representation, image or idea of what something should be. Concept development is formed by classifying or grouping objects or events with similar properties. For instance, a child can have a concept of a car, even though all cars are not alike, but cars have certain functions in common, that serve as a base for conceptual grouping. Concepts may range from very concrete or real objects, for example book and house, pencil, to abstract ideas such as anxiety, beauty, love and aggression.

The ability to perceive and discriminate between similarities and differences are all perceptual processes and fundamental for concept development. Perception is important to concept development. It is a dynamic process by which we obtain first hand information about the immediate environment through the use and integration of the functional sensory receptors. The ability to get abstract information from the environment involves several aspects, namely; awareness of the events presently occurring and a discriminative selective response to the immediate environment. Environmental stimulation is so vast and varied that the individual receives more information than he is able to process.

According to Ataha (2002) concept development is defined as an idea conceived in the mind, a thought or notion, an abstract or generic picture generated from particular experiences.

Relevance of concept formation:

In the opinion of Sykes and Ozoji (1992) concept development in children generally and the blind or deaf blind in particular is relevant in many dimensions. It underlines the goals of the specialist teacher to ensure that early childhood experiences and concepts about space, spatial relationships, and the geography of the child’s immediate environment are thoroughly understood. Before these, teachers must have carried out initial assessment of orientation and mobility concepts. Basic concepts related to mobility should include body awareness, body planes/parts, laterally and directionality. Those related to orientation include positional and relate concepts, concepts of shapes, measurement, topography, texture and temperature, as well as compass direction or otherwise cardinal points guide.

Concept development is important because it plays an important role in enhancing children’s environmental exploration. The child becomes aware of and attracted to his environment and begins to have direct sensory experience with it. Although the child with visual impairment lacks efficient spatial receptors, and so they must substitute vision with hearing, tough and thought to acquire critical spatial concepts and perception which must be deliberately included in the curriculum of any given child with blindness.

Developing concept of space and objects in space depends greatly on the relationship between the objects in space and the observer. Individuals could also have the same concept mentally about an object or an event. The individual is always the centre of his orientation and perceives objects in relationship to him/herself using preposition such as above, below, in front, to the left and so on. The perception of objects depends on accurate development of body awareness.

The relevance of concept development in both sighted and blind children becomes important as it permits the development of knowledge of bodily concept acquired through environmental interaction for every day livelihood. The information children acquire in developing body concepts include the ability to identify parts of the body: legs, arms, knees and so on, and knowing the location and functions of the various body parts. Hill and Blasch (1980) differentiated body schema from body image and body concept. Body schema is unconscious and changes from moment to moment. The information is used to regulate the body, the position of the different muscles and parts of the body in relation to each other and in relation to the full gravity. A person’s balance is dependent upon body schema. If a person’s body schema is distorted, difficulty in making coordinated movements such as walking, sitting down or bending over would result. Adequate knowledge in these areas may be viewed as central to the development of concepts and to the process of orienting one self to the environment and being mobile. Hill and Blasch (1980) evaluated five components of body image important to both sighted and blind children. These includes:

When children are able to identify parts, it is also important to describe the functions of the body parts. For example, ears enable us to hear sound and speech, hands are used to grasp, hold and manipulate. Legs support the body while standing and help with walking and running. Eyes enable us to see. Teeth are used to bit and chew food and so on.

Providing a guide for parents and teachers including supportive staff who render services to children who are blind or visually impaired within and outside the classroom situation, SPARKEL project (2005) stated that concept can be divided into three groups viz:

It is important to note that sighted and hearing children receive a constant flow of visual and auditory information which facilitate the development of concept through daily interaction in the environment. But for children with a combined vision and hearing loss, the flow of information is incomplete. Concepts do not develop naturally or easily. Teachers should adopt alternate strategies to teach concept development to these children. The Project identified six areas of concept development that are affected by deaf-blind children to include:

  1. Objects exist
  2. Objects have permanence
  3. Objects differ
  4. Objects have names and labels
  5. Objects have characteristics
  6. Objects have functions or use.

The general strategies that can be helpful in assisting children who are deaf-blind to develop concept include:

  1. Use activities that are meaningful to the child.
  2. Use activities that the child enjoys.
  3. Attach language to all experiences.
  4. Build on language that is already known to the child.
  5. Use a total communication approach that is appropriate for the child.
  6. Remove variables that may cause confusion for the child.
  7. Generalize the concepts to a variety of situations.

Techniques to help children develop concepts:

Concept development requires that any child;

  1. Create a nature basket.
  2. Nature walk and collection: make a collage or nature book.
  3. Wooden things (box or basket).
  4. Metal things (box or basket).
  5. Cloth textures (box or basket).
  6. Stacking or nesting.
  7. Carrying things.
  8. Mail box
  9. Story book and story box (bag) activities
  10. Math activities.

Spatial concepts:

According to Jurmang (2008), developing spatial concepts in children with blindness is a vital tool to gaining control and mastery of an inclusive environment. He insists that spatial concept provides for effective knowledge and information in other that an individual blind child perfects his/her skill in orientation and mobility. He further advocated for the teaching of compass direction to children with blindness so as to develop perfect spatial concept. This is very important because inclusion implies that whether sighted or blind, children are required to study side by side in the schools environment where a good knowledge and application of spatial concept is the only way to locating and getting one’s bearing in such an environment.

Even with in markets, places of worship, farm land or open streets, spatial concept is an essential ingredient for children with blindness to cope in an inclusive environment.

The following patterns according to Jurmang should be employed in teaching spatial concept to children with blindness especially ages below ten, posterior, anterior, back, front, behind, rear, lateral-next, next to, beside, North, East, West and South, insisting that this should be taught in relation to child’s position and body.

Included in the range of spatial concepts are shapes where the children should learn to begin to identify objects and work with mobility and orientation concepts such as street configuration, road patterns, and building layouts and so on and also by using descriptive terms such as rectangular, rounded, circle, and polygon. These concepts are very useful to blind children as they help in the studying of subjects such as Mathematics and the science as well as skills in orientation and mobility and other daily living skills. A child good at this, will do well in sciences oriented descriptive. These actions words are important in mobility and orientation. For example bend, sit, roll, move, go straight, squat and so on. Movement through the environment requires not only an understanding of the body and basic spatial concepts, but also an awareness of what exists in the environment and how it can be used, as well as overall description of the environment.

Environmental concepts:

These are concepts related to travel. For example, traffic light, red light, city, bush, paths, fence, stairs, rough, smooth and so on. Environmental concepts of texture are used in school, in daily living activities, employment and mobility or independent travel skills, common textual concepts for example pavement, cement, silky, slippery, sharps and gravel as well as temperature that is motorcar are indispensable integral parts of learning and concept development process. Based on information about temperature we can know the various clothing to buy or travel with to particular places with regards to geographical location and climatic conditions.

Assessment of concept development in sighted and blind children:

When a mobility specialist begins to teach mobility and orientation to young blind children in particular, it is first necessary to establish the pupil’s ability and deficiencies in order to plan appropriate mobility and orientation instruction. Proceedings without basic assessment often lead to teaching or learning problems because of poor concept development. the mobility and orientation specialist should be able to establish clearly the relevance of concept development between a verbal and concrete understanding of a concept. Verbalism may be the result of inaccurate and/or vague concept resulting from insufficient sensory experiences. When asked to describe a concept, a student may give adequate definition of the concept he has memorized, yet not being able to us the concept functionally. A child with an in adequate concept of a building block perhaps would not be able to walk around the building block because he/she is not aware of the side of the environment. It is therefore extremely important that mobility and orientation specialist assess not only the verbal understanding of a concept but also obtain a behavioral response that indicates a valid concept.


Concept development is vital in children development. The social environment limits exposure to a variety of concepts. These limitations can be due to over protectiveness by either parents or teachers. This will prevent the child from experiencing other types of stimulations and acquiring a variety of new concepts. It is important to develop concepts also form reading, communication, movies and so on. Children should be given enough time to experience events. The development of concepts is the foundation of academic, social and psychomotor learning. As parents and teachers, children should be exposed to develop their concepts well. Both sighted and blind children with poor concept developments will surely have learning and social problems. They will find it difficult to interact and learn what is happening in their immediate environment.


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[2] Ataha, J. C. Developmental psychology: Meaning, scope and educational implications. In Afe, J. O. - Alutu, A. N. (Eds) Developmental Psychology. Lagos, Ibadan, Benin City, Jattu-Uzairue: Stirling-Horden Publishers, 2002.  p. ISBN . 

[3] Concept Development Glossary.  [online], [Cited 17/10/2014] Availiable at: <http://www.sparkle,>.

[4] Deafblindness-Concept Development.  [online], [Cited 8/11/2014] . Availiable at: <http://education,>.

[5] Hill E. - Blasch, B. B. Concept Development. In Welsh, R. L. - Blasch, B. B. (Eds) Foundation of orientation and mobility. New York: American Foundation for the Blind, 1980. 

[6] Jurmang, I. Advanced Mobility. UNIJOS Unpublished lecture notes, 2008. 

[7] Knight, N.T. 10 Hands on activities to teach concept development.  [online], [Cited 8/10/2014] 2013. Availiable at: < development>.

[8] Learning and instruction: Concept development.  [online], [Cited 7/10/2014] National Center on Deaf-blindness, 2013. Availiable at: <>.

[9] Onuzurike, J. O. Dictionary of special education and related terms. Jos: Deka Publications, 2001. 

[10]  Sparkel project, Concept development.  [online], [Cited 7/10/2014] 2005. Availiable at: <>.

[11]  Teachers Report “Experience Practicum” for children ages 1-3. Light Magazine: St Joseph School for the Blind Obudu-Nigeria. 2012, 18, 2. P. 16-28. 

[12] Sykes, U. C. - Ozoji, E. D. Teaching blind and low vision children. Zaria: Ahmadu Bello University Press Limited, 1992. 

[13] Welsh, R. L. - Blasch, B. B. Foundation of orientation and mobility. New York: American for the blind, 1980. 

Kontaktní informace / Contact informations

 James Eburikure Olayi

Institute of Special Education Studies, Faculty of Education, Palacky University

Žižkovo nám. 5

771 40 Olomouc

Czech republic

Mgr. James Abua  Ewa

Institute of Special Education Studies, Faculty of Education, Palacky University

Žižkovo nám. 5

771 40 Olomouc

Czech republic

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