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Braille Literacy Importance

Date 4/02/2020

Over the last week, ISBVI staff have had to get really creative on teaching students, utilizing a variety of tools to meet each student’s specific need. Many of our students do not have access to technology such as a BrailleNote Touch, iPad, laptop, internet or sometimes WiFi for that matter. Each student needs an individualized approach to learning at home dependent upon their need, as well as what tools they have at home.

ISBVI Outreach Vision Support Specialist, Margiy Outten, recently shared her adapted lesson plan on teaching braille remotely. Utilizing a muffin pan, tennis balls and Zoom, Margiy and her elementary aged student were able to practice braille skills remotely.

Braille is a system of raised dots that can be read with the fingers by individuals who are blind or have low vision. A braille cell is made up of six raised dots in two parallel rows, each having three dots. Sixty-four combinations are possible using one or more of these dots. The dot positions are numbered one through six. The left vertical column of dot positions are numbered 1,2,3 and the right vertical column of dot positions are numbered 4,5,6.

The muffin pan represents the dot positions while the tennis balls represent the raised dots. Margiy instructed her student to move the tennis balls into different dot positions, helping her student understand and feel how different letters may be created. This helps early braille learners learn the braille alphabet, but more importantly stay motivated to practice learning braille.

Why is Braille Literacy Important?

Louis Braille's invention of the six dot reading and writing system revolutionized the way people who are blind perceive and interact in the world. Even in today's technology driven world, braille is critically important. School leadership is often asked, why teach braille when there is so much audio driven technology out there? The response, would you stop teaching a sighted child how to read or write because of audio driven technology? The answer of course is no. However, the real answer is that braille and technology can go hand and hand. Technology can actually be used to teach braille in ways that have never been accomplished before.

Learning and mastering braille code opens doors for individuals who are blind. Children need to be literate, to be able to read, write, and count. Learning braille helps children develop grammar, spelling, and understand punctuation. These skills bring intellectual freedom, personal security, independence, and equal opportunities when they grow up. Studies continue to show that individuals who know braille are more likely to achieve academic success and obtain jobs.

It takes a supportive environment for children to learn braille. This is one of the numerous reasons the foundation supports the Indiana Braille Challenge each year. Not only does this competition bring children and families in from around the state to participate, it provides family members an opportunity to deepen their knowledge and learn new ways to support their child's needs. Each child is also celebrated for participating, motivating children to continue their studies and participate the following year.

The following video exemplifies how it brings families together while celebrating each child year after year. Enjoy!

Family Engagement through the Braille Challenge