Teaching Braille Literacy Skills
How is teaching braille like
teaching print reading?
The objective is the same -- literacy.
Most of the prerequisites are the same.
– categorization and classification
Reading and writing must be taught
Approaches to teaching reading are the
– whole language
– language experience
How is teaching braille reading
and writing different?
Concepts must be more consciously
taught and assessed.
Students must be taught “book skills.”
Incidental exposure to experiences
must be planned.
Motor skills must be more highly
Students require up to 2 years longer to
master the code.
Spelling is more difficult.
Who needs braille?
Print Reader Braille Reader
•Uses vision efficiently •Prefers to explore the
to complete tasks at environment tactilely.
•Uses the tactile sense
•Shows interest in efficiently to identify
pictures, and can small objects.
identify pictures or
elements within a •Identifies his name in
picture. braille, and/or
understand that braille
•Identifies name in print has meaning.
and/or understands that
print has meaning. •Has an unstable eye
condition with a poor
•Has a stable eye prognosis.
Print Readers Braille Readers
•Has an intact central •Has a significantly
field reduced or
•Shows steady progress nonfunctional central
in learning to use vision field.
as necessary to ensure •Shows steady progress
efficient print reading. in developing tactile
•Is free of additional skills that are necessary
disabilities that would for braille reading.
interfere with progress • Is free of additional
in a developmental disabilities that would
reading program. interfere with progress
in a developmental
Source: Adapted from A. J. Koenig and reading program in
M. C. Holbrook, Learning Media
Assessment of Students with Visual braille.
Impariments: A Resource Guide for
Mercer’s Rules for determining
when to teach braille
When the reading speed is so low that
it effects the comprehension level.
When there are so many miscues that
the comprehension level is significantly
When the number of letters per fixation
is 3 or less.
In situations where it makes more
Ability to read their own handwriting.
Amount of time able to read before eye
strain sets in.
Probable vocational demands.
Motivation of the student.
Level of adjustment to the visual
Types of students who read
Students who are congenitally blind and
have never seen print.
Students who have been adventitiously
Students who need dual media.
Students with multiple and visual
impairments (especially Functional Skills
level). Instruction in uncontracted
braille should be considered for these
Braille Readiness or Emergent
Three Foundations to Learning
to Read Braille
Language and content.
Understanding that written (embossed)
symbols represent words and ideas.
When is a child ready for
Enough experiences to make reading
Foundational understanding of basic
Advanced auditory discrimination skills.
Localization of sound and objects in
Identification of objects, people, and
Closure (sentences convey whole
Advanced tactual discrimination.
Basic tactual tracking.
Important Components in
Teaching Braille Reading and
Four Components of Braille
Development or Enhancement of
Language and Tactual Skills
Tracking and Mastery of uncontracted
Mastery of contracted braille and Speed
Critical Components in
Teaching in Braille
Component I -- Assessment
braille mastery (if any)
– signs and contractions
– mechanics (hand movement, tracking skills, etc.)
Independent Reading Inventories
Instruments Available for
Assessment of Braille Skills
Assessing Braille Literacy Skills (ABLS) –
The KIT – TSBVI
The Mangold Reading Readiness
Minnesota Braille Skills Inventory
The Braille Connection
Component II -- Development or
Enhancement of Language and Tactual
– Advanced tactual discrimination training
– Strength and endurance training
– Concept building
– Language experience stories
– Incidental exposure
Component III -- Tracking and Mastery
of uncontracted braille --
Alphabet writing (e.g. learning to load a brl
writer, dot counts, etc.)
Phase IV -- Mastery of contracted braille
and Speed Building
– Introduction to all braille contractions.
– Speed and comprehension building.
Mechanics of Efficient Braille
Use fluid hand motions.
Use two hands.
Use the left hand to locate the next
Do not scrub. Never present braille
characters in isolation (e. g. one
character on a flash card)
Do not regress.
Relax the fingers.
Use a light touch.
Curl the fingers.
Do not vocalize or subvocalize.
Encourage your students to be “avid
Developing Fluency in Braille
Encourage independent reading.
Be sure that instruction is at a level low
enough to ensure success.
Identify books that sighted kids are
interest in and currently reading.
Be sure that your students are included
in programs to promote reading at
Repeated readings of the same
Have students practice and read stories
to smaller children
Enroll students in the Braille Book Club
and with the Texas State Library (800-
Materials and Resources
Patterns – for younger children;
typically those who are congenitally
Braille Too – for secondary students
who are already readers
Read Again/The Braille Connection – for
secondary students who are already
One is Fun – Margoie Troughton; is designed
to be used with a variety of kinds of students,
but most frequently primary students or
those with other disabilities.
Mangold Reading Readiness program – can
be used with any age student. Teaches
tracking and tactual discrimination only.
Braille FUNdamentals – TSBVI;
designed to teach a wide range of age
ranges. Includes a pre-braille
assessment, numerous age appropriate
activities and writing exercises.
Un’s the One – TSBVI; teaches
uncontracted braille to a students from
different age and ability groups.
Seedlings – books for very young
Braille Book Club
Texas State Library
Individualized reading materials
How much time should a TVI
dedicate to teaching a student who
is learning braille?
A MINIMUM OF ONE AND A
HALF HOURS PER DAY FOR A
MINIMUM OF FOUR DAYS PER
Should I ever teach braille to a
student who can still read print but
will one day be a braille reader?
Probably not. Instead, concentrate on
building visual maps and providing
training in the extended core