The National Federation for the Blind estimates that only 10 % of children who are blind or visually impaired are learning to be literate in reading. Strides have been made in recent years, but more can be done to ensure that parents and caregivers have access to the tools and resources they need to engage their visually impaired children in literacy and learning.
Literacy doesn’t look the same for everyone, but it’s absolutely essential that we promote all kids of literacy, including braille literacy.
About a month ago, I got the chance to engage a group of elementary students in a hands-on braille activity. I wasn’t sure how well the activity would go over because a group of CMU students who were also there had robots… how was I supposed to compete with robots?! I was shocked when I ran out of the special paper I had brought for the kids to try writing their names in braille within 20 minutes (the event was scheduled to go on for another hour and 10 minutes!). Luckily, I had a second activity prepared—it wasn’t quite as awesome as writing your name in braille or robots, but it did the trick.
I tell you all of this to make a point that you might not have believed otherwise: braille can be really, really cool when presented in engaging ways! It’s so important that we share these experiences with kids so that they understand that there’s more than one way to do something, like reading and writing. There are a number of excellent books that include braille to share with your inquisitive learner! Check out Animals: Knowledge You Can Touch, an exciting reference book that includes braille, large print, and tactile illustrations, or The Black Book of Colors, a concept book that uses all of the senses but sight to describe colors. Literacy doesn’t look the same for everyone, but it’s absolutely essential that we promote all kids of literacy, including braille literacy.
Briana is a Library Assistant at the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH). She loves exploring Pittsburgh, dancing and her Great Dane puppy, Duke.