What are instructional strategies for teaching?
As with children who learn to read print, children who are blind must have broad and repeated exposure to language, concepts, and books before they receive formal instruction in reading. Young children will benefit from being read aloud to, and should have a chance to handle braille books well before they are formally taught to read. In addition to adequate language development, a clear understanding of basic positional concepts, and an interest in books, braille readers must also demonstrate sufficient tactile skills and fine motor coordination. Early literacy and pre-braille skills are essential to success as a braille reader. A child's educational team and his or her teacher of the blind and visually impaired should work together to determine the best approach for each individual student.
In this webcast from Perkins School for the Blind, Lucia Hasty discusses the importance of early literacy, language and concept development for children who are blind and the specific skills needed for braille literacy. In addition, Lucia, who has extensive expertise related to teaching braille reading and writing, shares information regarding the importance of supporting others involved in the process e.g., classroom teachers as well as "best practices" for teachers of the visually impaired.
The webcast presents the following chapters: Ch. 1: Introduction, Ch. 2: Early Exposure to Books and Reading Experiences, Ch. 3: The Significance of Concept and Oral Language Development, Ch. 4: Additional Skills Necessary for Braille Literacy, Ch. 5: Maintaining Currency with the Braille Code, Ch. 6: Conveying Information in Brailled Formats, and Ch. 7: Supporting the Classroom Teacher.
Students will need special instruction to learn to read and write braille code. Usually students are introduced first to the alphabet and uncontracted braille, and once they are proficient in recognizing and producing letters, they move on to contracted braille. There is currently a lot of discussion about when to introduce contractions and whether or not to introduce them at all. You can learn more about this in the article Reading for Everyone: Expanding Literacy Options by Cyral Miller. APH has put together an Annotated Bibliography of Contracted and Uncontracted Braille that provides suggestions for further reading on this topic.
What are the components of a reading program for brailler readers?
Gayle Flegel, a TVI for Catholic Charities Maine, shares her ideas for suggested components of a reading program for braille readers.