By: Carmen Willings
The development of tactual exploration and discrimination skills are necessary for future braille readers. It is also important for students with cognitive disabilities who may not be able to learn formal braille, but can learn to discriminate objects by touch to help make sense of their world or to use for communication.
Locate & Explore Objects
One of the first steps in becoming independent and reaching out to tactually explore the world is for students to attempt to reach out and locate objects. The facilitator may need to assist the student in developing an interest in locating objects. One primary way is to not retrieve objects for the student. If the student loses an object, provide a sound source to help the student locate the object, or touch the object to the student, but encourage them to reach for and obtain the object. This is part of the student beginning to understand object permanence.
Encourage students to:
The Importance of & Tactual Discrimination Finger Sensitivity
When preparing for braille literacy, it is important to develop tactual discrimination skills and finger sensitivity. The development of tactual discrimination skills follows an order from larger to smaller that is similar to the development of the hands and fingers. It begins with using the whole hand to explore objects and progresses to using fingers and fingertips to examine the details of tactile materials. Students with limited sensitivity in their fingers may not be good candidates for braille reading. There are a variety of diagnosis that can cause numbness or reduced sensitivity in the fingers. This will be a factor in determining if a student will be a candidate for formal braille instruction.
Tactual discrimination usually follow the following sequence:
Identify, Compare & Organize Objects
Encourage the student to begin to identify, compare and organize objects and toys they are exploring. Talk to the student about different temperatures, weights and textures and encourage them to locate identical or similar materials. Draw the student's attention to where toys and materials are located and encourage them to locate the objects and put them away in their correct place. Encourage students to begin identifying and naming objects. Once they are successfully able to identify objects, begin to transfer this skill to embossed shapes, and then outlined shapes.
Developing Tactual Discrimination & Finger Sensitivity
You can help the development of tactual discrimination and finger sensitivity by providing many opportunities throughout the day for the student to tactually discriminate materials and compare similarities and differences, classify, and sort. Many commercially produced classroom classification kits consist of molded plastic figures that all feel the same. These lack the variety of textures of real objects. Instead, use real materials whenever possible. Using real materials that support the current topic make these activities interesting for all students!
Draw the student’s attention to textures and describe the textures. This will help the student become aware of their differences. You can help a student develop finger sensitivity and refine their tactual discrimination skills by providing them with a variety of textures to match, sort and play with and explore. When selecting toys, choose toys that are tactually interesting. Throughout the activities, provide the student with the language that connects the experience. See the Objects & Containers section for a list of materials to classify and sort.
Although real materials should always be included in each unit, you may want to purchase commercially available texture sorting materials to complement these activities.
Motor Activities to Develop Pre-Braille Skills
You are welcome to print and use this list of motor activities that can help develop tactual skills and pre-braille skills.
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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