For younger students and those with cognitive delays, it is essential to begin by providing concrete materials and opportunities for interaction with real materials in order to develop conceptual understanding of their world. For future braille readers, it is important to provide early and frequent exposure to braille. Suggestions on promoting literacy can be found in the Literacy Adaptations section of this site. Once the student has an understanding of the real material, it is important to then move toward models, 2D symbols and raised line drawings. These are referred to as tactual graphics.
It is important to understand that tactile presentations are not automatically meaningful to a student who is blind. The student will need to be taught how to read tactual graphics. Preparation and foundations for reading tactual graphics should be included in the process of learning braille. The ability to read graphics, diagrams, graphs, and maps will be required for academic success. Understanding of basic concepts is critical to reading tactual graphics. Some of these include: far, near, next to, beside, above, below, overlapping, crossing, intersecting, perpendicular, and parallel. It is also essential to have basic tactual perceptual skills: tracking, discrimination among similar symbols, and comparison.
The student must also be aware that diagrams can have different views including cross section, aerial, frontal view, perspective and distance, and imaginary lines used in 3-D drawings. The student must also be taught to systematically scan the graphic. The student should be encouraged to use a consistent pattern for exploring and to select a reference point within the graphic to determine when the entire graphic has been explored.
Activities to Develop Skills in Reading Tactual Graphics
Encourage the student to recognize and interpret graphic information (2D object, solid embossed shapes, outlines of objects, raised lines, symbols/letters).
Ready Made Tactile Graphics Instruction Resources...
APH.SQUID Tactile Activities Magazine This activities magazines, available through APH, introduce a recreational approach to tactile literacy. SQUID Magazine is deceptively fun: while your child or student enjoys a variety of activities, he or she will acquire skills needed to become a more proficient tactile reader. These puzzles, games, and brainteasers will foster: Texture discrimination, Systematic searching, Shape identification, Tracking line paths, Pattern building and recognition, and Understanding symbols
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