The education ministry plans to send medical experts to work with teachers at schools for blind, deaf and disabled children.

The experts will be dispatched to provide guidance and instruction that better address the needs of the pupils who attend the schools.

Starting next spring, 16 prefectures will be designated as test areas for the program, although this will likely be expanded nationwide in the future, according to ministry officials.

The officials said they plan to earmark 30 million yen for the program within the ministry’s budget request for fiscal 2002.

Teachers often handle children at these schools one-on-one.

This scenario is becoming rarer, however, because the number of children with serious disabilities or more than two disabilities is rising.

The schools have also called on experts to help the students learn a variety of nontextbook skills, such as braille, in order to enhance their sense of independence, officials said.

Ministry officials said that physical and occupational therapists are among the medical experts being considered for the project.

The experts are to cooperate with teachers in drawing up individual guidance programs according to the disability and development stage of a student.

The ministry will also urge teachers to obtain special education certificates.

In fiscal 2000, the proportion of teachers working at these schools who had these credentials stayed at 48 percent.

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