The Tactual Learner
Vision is the primary sensory input; about 80% of learning takes place through the visual system. Vision is responsible for providing feedback about the world; it is also the unifying sense allowing sighted people to construct meaning from their observations and experiences.
For children who are blind or have very low vision, the acquisition of information may rely on input from the other senses, particularly touch and hearing.
In order to fully participate in all facets of life, and along with the general academic curriculum offered in schools, students with vision impairments also require direct teaching of a range of additional skills, tools and strategies, known as the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC), by specialist vision educators.
It is important to remember that each child is a unique individual and their educational program needs to be tailored accordingly.
Specialist vision educator Annette Godfrey-Magee (2014) notes,
“Students who begin school this decade will graduate during the late 2020s and early 2030s. This may seem like a long way off … and it is! As teachers, aides and family members we are preparing our children for a world we don’t really know. We need to assist each child to become independent, literate, numerate, technologically savvy, adaptable and able to participate fully in whatever the 21st Century has to offer.”
The most efficient and effective literacy (reading and writing) medium for students who are blind is braille. Braille is a system of raised dots which can read by touch. It is possible to represent anything in print using the braille code. Braille allows readers to interact with text in a way that is most similar to a sighted person interacting with print.
More about Braille
- UEB: Unified English Braille – the braille code used in Australia and many other English-speaking countries
- What is Braille? – a little background and links to resources
- Teaching Braille Reading: Setting the Scene – some considerations for the class teacher
- Ozzie Dots – developed by staff and volunteers of the Statewide Vision Resource Centre, this is a fun and light-hearted resource to introduce contracted braille and tactual graphicacy to young braille readers
- Tips for Promoting Braille Literacy Skills – ideas from specialist vision educators
- Improving Braille Reading Speed and Fluency – ideas from specialist vision educators
- Braille Reversals – how to help a beginning braille reader who is reversing letters or contractions
- The Student with Vision and Additional Impairments / Complex Learning Needs – some ideas for blind students who are needing additional teaching support
- One-Handed Braille Production – a range of options
- Braille Quizzes: for Older Students – another way to check what your students know!
- Educational Support for Students who are Blind – booklet from the SVRC Braille Day (pdf)
- Preparing Future Graduates (who happen to be blind)
- The BrailleNote as a Learning Tool
- Braille and Tactual Graphics Production at the Statewide Vision Resource Centre – see how we produce braille and tactual materials
For more information, please contact us.