Reading Material for the Prevention of Blindness Workshop

Accessing Teaching Resources


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Accessing Teaching Resources

Ordering from a supplier

It should not be assumed, when placing an order, that the supplier will know exactly what material is needed! It is wise first to ask a supplier to provide a publications list on which can be indicated the title and quantity required. Ideally, when placing an order without the facility of a printed order form, the following details will help the supplier to provide the correct publication:

• Full title of publication

• Author(s) name(s)

• Edition

• ISBN (international standard book number).

• Price


• Date and place of publication.
It is important the purchaser and supplier agree the amount and method of payment beforehand. Full name and address must be included in the purchase order. Ordering via the Internet will require advance payment by credit card. Some suppliers only deliver to a physical address, not a post office box.
A Directory of Teaching and Information Resources for Blindness Prevention and Rehabilitation is available from the International Resource Centre, ICEH. This publication lists some 20 organisations which supply teaching materials on many topics, at varying levels and in selected formats and languages.2

Basic Guidelines for Producing Teaching Materials

Many excellent teaching materials are ‘home-made’, unpublished and unavailable through a supplier. Remember - this does not make them inferior! Indeed, materials produced specifically for local use are often more effective. When producing materials, whatever the situation, the following .uidelines are recommended:1
  • Consider the educational background of your users

  • Test materials on a sample of users and modify the material accordingly. It is unwise to assume that users will find your initial efforts helpful

  • Use plain English or local language(s) in the active tense

  • Keep the message brief, to the point and avoid irrelevant material

  • Emphasise key messages using bold, appropriate size and style fonts and colour

  • Use pictures when the message can be conveyed in this way but make sure this approach is field tested to check for misunderstandings

  • Apply the Gobbledygook Test to your own materials too! (see Box 1)

  • Use words that reflect the reality of the situation – e.g., don’t use the word ‘ophthalmologist’ if none work on the project. Inclusive language will help to avoid offence and feelings of inadequacy.

You will need to consider who will write the draft, who will edit it, where you can field test it, what it will cost to produce and if it will involve desk top publishing, a designer, illustrator, translator and printer? This will apply to whatever format you aim to provide.

Strategies for Continuing Education

Resource Centres

Core teaching materials must be accessible to learners. Increasing health information is potentially the most cost-effective measure for improving health care in developing countries.3ýAny project or teaching centre can set up a ‘resource centre’. The International Resource Centre at the International Centre for Eye Health in London started life as a shelf in the Journal editor’s office! It is advisable to keep learning materials in a central point with someone responsible for their cataloguing, allocation and safekeeping.4

In September 2000, the International Resource Centre, London, with the support of Sight Savers International and Christian Blind Mission International, launched a new project providing Regional Resource Centres for Africa, Asia and Latin America. Eighteen months on, five new centres have now been established in India, Pakistan, South Africa, Colombia and Tanzania. These now aim to help meet the educational and information needs within their regions (see Box 2).

Human Resources

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word ‘resource’ as “the means of supplying a want or a need”.

Information technology, the newest development contributing to health communication, can now link health workers and makes available to them a wide range of resources. Most sites are ‘read only’ but some are interactive with some health libraries providing ‘touch screen’ facilities. But our best means of meeting learning needs undoubtedly remains the human resource.

Participants on training courses can be supported following a local, national or international course by means of peer networking and the organisation of ‘alumni’ meetings. Delegate lists at conferences are a useful way of facilitating follow-up and for providing relevant resource information. The sharing of information with like- minded colleagues, even at a distance, is made easier through the ever-increasing use of electronic newsletters.
As individuals, we all can contribute, in some measure, to learning and information by sharing our own knowledge and experiences, however limited, with those who seek to make Vision 2020: the Right to Sight, a reality.
  1. Ewles L, Simnett I. &romoting Health – A Practical Guide, 4th Edition. Baillière Tindall, 1998.

  2. Stevens S. Teaching Resources for Blindness Prevention and Rehabilitation. International Centre for Eye Health, London, 2000.

  3. Pakenham-Walsh N, et al. Meeting the Information Needs of Health Workers in Developing Countries. BMJ 1997; 314: 90–91.

  4. Giggey S. Rural Community Resource Centres – A Guide for Developing Countries. Macmillan, 1988.


Dr Daksha Patel, Courses Convenor, ICEH has kindly reviewed this article.

Catherine Cross MA
Manager, International Programmes
Sight Savers International
Grosvenor Hall
Bolnore Road
Haywards Heath
West Sussex RH16 1EL, UK

The Global Initiative for the Elimination of Avoidable Blindness (World Health Organization, 1997), which is VISION 2020's base document, emphasises the need for appropriate and affordable technology for the delivery of eye care on a global scale. The past ten years have already seen initiatives which have immeasurably increased access to eye care in developing countries. The outstanding achievement has been the mass production of low cost, high quality intraocular lenses, first by Aurolab in India, and then by the Fred Hollows Foundation. These organizations have substantially reduced the cost of IOLs, which are now widely distributed on the world market, and thus brought high quality cataract surgery within the reach of millions more people.

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