Braille Activities for Your Children | Braille Activities for Children with Low Vision or Sighted Peers | Braille Books for Children | Braille Made Easy Through Clip Art (PDF) | Braille: Unlocking the Code | Braille Websites for Children | Brailling Signs is Cool to Do | Common Questions Parents Have Regarding Braille | Finger Locations on the Perkins | Free Slate Program | Future Reflections | National Reading Media Assessment (NRMA) | Other Recommended Websites and Apps | Perkins Panda Early Literacy Kit | ReadBooks! Program | Reading Pals Club | Recommended Literature | www.seedlings.org | The Braille Rap Song | The Complete Braille Chart | NEW: Braille Basics Plus | Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness
Following is a list of the most commonly asked questions related to Braille for very young children. Click each link to find the answers.
Answers to questions Parents have Regarding Braille [These are the links to the questions above.]
Several suggestions for teaching Braille to very young children can be found at the link above “Braille Activities for Young Children.” Some students may not be interested too long in one particular activity. It is a good idea to have a variety of activities to maintain their interest.
Many of the suggestions found in the link above “Braille Activities for Young Children” can be used with 3-year-olds. In fact, many of the activities were developed and build upon from teachers teaching Braille to children as young as 3-year-old. Because of the attention span of a 3-year-old, vary the activities and don’t spend too much time doing one particular activity.
Many of the supplies you need for teaching Braille may be found in your kitchen (such as a 6-count muffin pan or half an egg carton) and your child’s toy box (such as balls, cars, finger puppets.) However, if these items are not accessible in your home, other suggested items can be found at “Braille Activities for Young Children” link above.
One needs something that resembles a Braille cell such as a 6-count muffin pan or half an egg carton. One also needs items that can fit into the muffin pan. Actually only five items are needed for uncontracted Braille (or grade one Braille).
At the very beginning, (for a young 3-year-old), learning dot numbers may be too stressful. However, as the child begins to pick up on the Braille letters (by age 5), then learning dot numbers is very important. This will help them be quicker Braille writers when they are using the Perkins Brailler. This will also assist the child when learning how to write using a slate and stylus.
A young child may not want to stay with one activity very long. This can range from 3-5 minutes to 10 minutes. One way to capture the child’s interest is to have the child play an active part in their learning. Have the child select the items to place in the Braille cell when creating letters. Have the child select with Braille cell to use. Have the child be the teacher for awhile. Have a cut out Braille template and have the child color in the dot numbers rather than place items into a Braille cell. Most importantly, have a variety of items and activities available and let the child be the timer. Watch for their clues as to when enough is enough and then change the activity but not the subject.
Truly, this depends on the individual. Some older students can learn Braille quite quickly while others may take longer. How much time devoted to learning Braille also determines how long it takes to learn Braille. Students learn by observing others, too. If you put an effort in showing that Braille is fun – the child will think it is fun, too. If the child thinks it’s fun, the child will put forth more of an effort and will learn Braille quicker.
YES! YES! YES!
Many Braille classes are available through the Perkins School for the Blind at http://www.perkins.org/resources/scout/literacy-and-braille/online-braille-courses.html
Check with your local Department for the Blind or Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments so see if they can recommend a person near you who can repair your Perkins Brailler. If they can’t suggest anyone, contact “The Brailler Man” at http://www.braillerman.com/ or email Mr. Alan Ackley at email@example.com.
YES! YES! YES! If a child does not place the proper fingers on the proper keys then they will have difficulties when learning an electronic Braille note taking device later. The proper way the fingers need to be on the Perkins is seen in the picture below.
The slate and stylus may be too advanced for a very young child of 3-years-old. However, when the child has the concept of the alphabet in general and the dot numbers of the Braille code then the slate and stylus can be introduced to the learner. Also, it is very important that the child learn the slate and stylus as there will be many, many opportunities to write when the Perkins Brailler is not at easy access. Think of the slate and stylus as the pencil or pen and the Perkins Brailler as a typewriter (or these days – a computer). How often do you carry around a typewriter or computer to the grocery store or mall? How often do you have a pen or pencil in your purse or pocket?
Your child should learn the Braille code (both uncontracted and contracted), the dot numbers to create the code, how to read Braille, how to write Braille on both the Perkins Brailler and the slate & stylus, and eventually Nemeth which is the code used for mathematics.
Basically uncontracted (aka: grade one) Braille includes the letters “A” through “Z”. It may also include some punctuation marks such as period, question mark, capital sign, and comma. Contracted (aka: grade two) Braille consists of a ‘shorthand’ in Braille whereas some words have shortcuts such as the letter ‘C’ represents the word ‘can’ or ‘td’ is the word today. There are 189 Braille contractions. Very young children will focus on uncontracted Braille.
Basically grade one (aka: uncontracted) Braille includes the letters “A” through “Z”. It may also include some punctuation marks such as period, question mark, capital sign, and comma. Grade two (aka: contracted) Braille consists of a ‘shorthand’ in Braille whereas some words have shortcuts such as the letter ‘C’ represents the word ‘can’ or ‘td’ is the word ‘today’. There are 189 Braille contractions. Very young children will focus on grade one/uncontracted Braille. Keep in mind that the terms “Grade One” and “Grade Two” does not represent the actual school grades such as 1st grade and 2nd grade. The terms “grade one” and “grade two” Braille is hardly used nowadays. “Grade Three” Braille includes even more contractions. Nowadays, one will not find items in Grade Three Braille.
The front ball of each index finger tip needs to be placed on the targeted line of Braille. The left hand reads from the beginning of the line to the middle of the line where the right hand is waiting to take over reading from the middle of the line to the end of the line. While the right hand is reading, the left hand is moves down to the beginning of the next line and waits for the right hand to finish the targeted line. When the left hand begins to read the new line of text, the right hand moves down to the next line of text and slides to the left to the middle of the new line of text and waits for the left hand to approach it. Then, the right hand continues the new line of text while the left hand slips down to the beginning of the next row and the process repeats until the page is read. It is important to note that the top tip of the fingers is not doing the reading. If this happens, one may miss the bottom two dots of the targeted Braille cell whereas a “M” may become a “C” or a “P” may become a “F” when reading. It is also important to have the book directly in front of the reader and not at an angle or else a “K” may become a “CH” or “ST”, depending on the angle of the literature.
Place Braille everywhere throughout the house. Learn Braille yourself. Play games in Braille. Play ‘teacher’ where your child becomes your teacher & you the student. If the young child observes how important Braille is to you, he/she will feel the same way. Introduce your child to individuals who are blind and ask individual read Braille to your child. Find a peer role model. Be involved with Braille Pals, http://www.nfb.org/braille-reading-pals-early-literacy-program. Remember, if you speak negatively about Braille, the child will not want to venture forward in learning Braille. Place high expectations on their learning and they will strive to meet those expectations.
A positive attitude about Braille would really help your child learn Braille. One way to help your child have a positive attitude is by yourself having a positive attitude.
If your child only reads Braille during class, his/her progress will be slow or non-existent. Just think that if the only time you learned print when you were a child was at school during reading class, you probably would not be able to read this right now. Sighted children see print everywhere – on the elevator, street signs, billboards, on television, at the restaurant, grocery store, etc. Children pick up text everywhere! Blind children need to have the same exposure to text. Encourage your child to read every day!
Sometimes low vision children will depend on their limited visual abilities which may not always be accurate. By wearing sleep-shades during Braille class, the child will be able to perfect their tactual abilities without visual distractions. Some students may have difficulties with wearing sleep-shades. If sheep-shades are a problem due to physical or psychological reasons, try reading Braille in a darkened. Place Braille on visually distracting materials if the student depends on their vision too much. One of the goals of learning Braille is just that – to learn Braille – not to learn how to work the eyes in order to ‘see’ the Braille.
Work on Braille in a dark room, with all the lights out. Play a game Braille cards while sitting in the closet. Use the backs of cards as Braille flash cards whereas the print of the card backs makes it difficult to read the Braille visually.
There is an assessment tool called “National Reading Media Assessment (NRMA)” available at www.teachblindstudents.org that would better answer that question because children are individuals with a variety of visual conditions.
An individual must have certification as a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI, aka: Teacher of Blind Students, TBS) in order to be a Braille instructor in an educational or public school system. Some Orientation and Mobility instructors also have certification as a TVI.