By: Carmen Willings
Updated October 28, 2017
Some people with limited knowledge of braille often feel intimidated by it because reading braille appears difficult. Some even unwittingly pass those fears and intimidation of braille on to the student by commenting on how challenging it appears. It is very important to not plant negative feelings toward braille in the student's mind. Instead, help foster interest in braille in the braille learner as well as with peers. In addition to intimidation, many people have the misconception that braille is a language and can be offered as a foreign language in school. Braille is NOT a foreign language but is a code in which to read and write the language (There is also a braille code for mathematics, computers, and music.). For this reason, it would not be appropriate to give a student foreign language credit in school for learning the braille code.
What is braille?
Braille is a system of raised dots arranged in cells. The number and position of the raised dots represent a letter, word, number, or symbol. Braille for reading and writing for Language Arts is referred to as a literary braille. In literary braille, there are two grades used in school, Grade 1 and Grade 2 (there is also a Grade 3 that is comparable to shorthand but it is not used in publications as it has not been standardized). These grades do not correspond to school grades but instead, refer to uncontracted and contracted braille. In grade 1 braille, each cell represents one letter, number, punctuation sign, or special braille composition sign. Books produced in grade 1 braille are very bulky as it takes a large space to produce each braille letter. Grade 2 braille was introduced as a space-saving alternative to grade 1 braille. In grade 2 braille, there are short form words and part and whole word contractions that save space.
Obtaining Braille Materials
Braille can either be produced using a standard manual braillewriter such as the Perkins braillewriter or it can be produced using print-to-braille translation software. In this method, information is typed into the software and it is formatted into braille. Examples include MegaDots and Duxbury. The braille can then be output onto a braille printer. To use the standard braillewriter, it is important to be proficient in both reading and writing the braille code and knowing the formatting rules.
If you would like to produce ink print braille to create worksheets for students who are beginning to lose their vision or for parents, peers or others who want to learn braille, there is an easy solution! You will first need to download a braille font such as Duxbury. Once you have downloaded the font, use this ASCII keyboard handout to create worksheets! Downloads are available in the Free Printables sections.
Remember to store braille books in bookshelves sitting on their end. Do not stack them on top of each other or it will flatten the braille!
Ensuring the student has access to the curriculum and entire educational environment is a key role of the Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments. This presentation provides an overview of accommodations for students who are blind or visually impaired. I discuss considerations for providing accommodations, go over common accommodations, strategies for preparing the student to request job accommodations and strategies for communicating needs to teams and employers.
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