By: Carmen Willings
Music class is a preferred activity for many students who are blind and visually impaired, but it shouldn't be assumed that all students that are blind will be musicians or be uniquely gifted in this area. Like other areas of the curriculum, adaptations may be necessary to allow the student who is blind or visually impaired to fully participate.
Many aspects of the music program will be the same for students who are sighted and students who are blind or visually impaired. There are some strategies that will help students access the curriculum.
Students should be exposed to a variety of musical instruments from a young age. Show students the different ways that music can be produced. Listening to the differences in sounds will help the student develop auditory discrimination skills. Expose the student to a variety of types of music (ex. concerts, CD's, YouTube videos, etc.) to help develop music appreciation.
The Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) and the general education music teacher should collaborate, at a very minimum at the beginning of the school year, to review activities and lessons that will be taught throughout the year. If the student will need to read music, it may be necessary to provide enlarged music scores or instruct a student who is blind in the braille music code if the student is a braille reader. Even if the student is using the braille music code, they should be familiarized with print symbols that are used (using tactual graphics) so they can understand terms and descriptions used by their sighted peers. Also, it may be necessary to determine if there is a need for non-visual prompts during conducting.
To help a student practice their scales or other music at home, YouTube videos can be a great resource. Collaborate with the music instructor to ensure that the correct version of the song or the correct scale is available. Copy and send the link home to the family to allow the student to listen and practice at home.
Braille Music Code
Braille music is a form of the six dot braille code used in literary braille. The code includes all the information presented on a standard sheet of a music score including notes and their values, dynamic, expression marks, and fingering. Braille music score is presented in a linear form. In teaching a piano score, the score for the one hand is presented followed by the score for the other hand. Once the student has learned each score, they then play with both hands together. For this reason, it will take longer for a student to learn printed music scores than sighted students. Students must learn to memorize music in order to perform it as sight reading music is not possible with the braille music code as the student will need to read the score tactually instead of visually.
The music braille code is used internationally. Copies of the music code are available for purchase in hardcopy print and braille from the APH or can be downloaded from BANA.
BRL.org offers a very detailed braille music code manual.
Dancing Dots offers technology, educational resources and training to assist blind and low vision individuals to read, write, and record their music. Their products and services foster inclusion, literacy and independence for visually impaired musicians and audio producers engaged in educational, leisure, and professional pursuits.
How to Read Braille Music by Bettye Krolick provides the basics in clear terms with an emphasis on accessibility. The examples are short, fun and to the point. The book identifies music symbols frequently encountered in elementary to intermediate music with an index for identifying new symbols as they are found. View the pages for free on the internet archive!
Opus Technologies offers software, print, and braille materials for learning and using braille, especially braille music. Products include books and software for music braille, and popular braille sheet music.
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TVI's Guide to Teaching the ECC: An Activities Based Curriculum for Teaching Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired
Written specifically for fellow itinerant Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI’s), this book consists of over 400 activities and topic areas of discussion for instructing students in the Expanded Core Curriculum. The activities are age-neutral and multi-sensory and therefore can meet the needs of the broad range of students served on an itinerant caseload serving. The activities can be individualized to the students various learning modalities and scaffold in order to challenge students but ensure success. Select those activities that align with the student’s learning objects based on the student’s unique visual needs and academic and developmental level.
The core activities listed in the Activity section can be adapted to each thematic unit. These include:
In addition to the core activity areas, each of the 32 Thematic Units incorporates additional unique ECC concepts and skills providing you with a years’ worth of activities. These units are cyclical and can be used repeatedly to help students build on prior knowledge and develop a deeper understanding of concepts. Each unit includes suggestions for activity adaptation associated with the unit. These include lists of objects, possible community based experiences, environmental print, poems, children & young reader books, children's songs, pop culture songs, movies, and websites.
Unique Concepts within the Units include:
Although the intended audience of this resource is fellow Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments, special education teachers may find these activities beneficial to the students in their classrooms as the activities are multisensory and include life skills and concepts needed by all students. This resource, however, is not intended to take the place of a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI). Readers are advised to consult their own TVI’s regarding instruction in the ECC and the unique visual needs of the student’s served in their programs.
Note: This curriculum is a digital pdf download. Once you make your purchase you will be directed to an order confirmation page where you will find the download link. This download will also be included on the receipt sent to the email address you provide. The pdf download can be found directly under the order number.
Each download is intended for single instructor use per copyright. Thank you for helping me preserve the content and not distributing copies to third parties.
Digital pdf download: 364 pages (11 pt font)
Publisher: Teaching Students with Visual Impairments
Author: Carmen Willings
Visual Efficiency & Magnifier Fluency Grab & Go ECC Supplements
This workbook is a pdf download that can be printed on demand for use with students. It contains five different types of worksheets for developing visual motor skills and near magnifier fluency skills particularly with the use of a video magnifier. As a supplement to the TVI’s Guide to the ECC, the worksheets correspond to each of the 32 ECC Thematic units. The worksheets, along with a list of environmental print for each thematic unit, are designed to help students refine their visual motor skills while reinforcing ECC concepts presented in the thematic units.
Visual Efficiency & Near Magnifier Fluency Worksheet Details:
Digital pdf download: 210 pages
Publisher: Teaching Students with Visual Impairments
Author: Carmen Willings