Teaching Beginning Braille Reading – Some Teaching Strategies

The majority of Victorian students with vision impairments, including those who are blind, are enrolled full-time in their local schools. The students you are teaching may be beginning readers or may be older students who are making the transition from print to braille. Here are some strategies that will support your teaching.

For Braille Beginners

  • Build tactual sensitivity before formal instruction – start with larger objects and move to finer discrimination including tactual matching, tracking, scanning and so on
  • Build finger strength and flexibility – squeeze and pound clay, crack peanuts with fingers, do “finger plays”, and “scribble” with a Perkins brailler
  • For children who are tactually defensive – a thin piece of plastic (e.g. clingwrap) over the braille to reduce the sharpness of the dots might help
  • Support the parents/carers – literacy starts early
  • Build from the experiences of the child – experiences assist in the development of language and supports reading
  • Invite the students to teach their peers to read and write braille
  • Bring creativity and excitement to the process – show your enthusiasm

For Older Braille Beginners (in addition to the list above)

  • Make sure your lessons are pertinent and interesting – identify interests and needs of the student and start from there
  • Use learning materials appropriate for the student’s age and interests e.g. words to songs, menu from a favourite restaurant, footy fixture
  • Have the student write and then read their own story
  • Have a collection of braille with the corresponding audio recording and encourage the student to listen and read along
  • Introduce interest and rewards into learning e.g. writing to pen pals, games (Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, word puzzles)
  • Encourage students to identify ways that braille can make their lives easier
  • For the reluctant learner, identify the student’s first priority and see how braille can be part of that. For example, if your student is immediately concerned with finding his locker or with organizing his materials, show how braille labels can help.

For more information see The Tactual Learner page.