Russian Language Journal


Russian language learning, people with visual impairment, digital teaching tools


With the transition of traditional programs to emergency remote teaching contexts due to the COVID-19 crisis, we have been faced with a challenge that primarily concerns access to instruction for all students. This unprecedented situation has reshaped the issue of inclusive education. This paper aims at furthering the debate on inclusive distance education in Russian language learning by presenting the experience of teaching Russian as a foreign language (FL) at an elementary level to a group of 20 Italian native learners, including some who are visually impaired (VI). The course took place in Autumn 2020 and was originally planned as a conventional in-person class, but due to the pandemic was radically redesigned. The paper is organized around three main sections. The first section provides an overview of inclusive education policy within European and Italian contexts. The second section presents insights into visual impairment and a short review of the literature and research studies pertaining to FL education of VI children, youth, and adults. The third section provides a critical survey of the tools, strategies, and materials used in the course. In the concluding part we discuss the positive implications of merging distance and inclusive forms of education in the light of our experience.