Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Assistive Technology for Beginning Braille Readers

Picture of a Perkins Braillewriter with a Daredevil action figure on top

This post is based on a presentation given at Closing the Gap 2017.


What technology means to me...

  • Family
  • Love 
  • Connection

 

What technology means to our students...

  • Access
  • Voice
  • Empowerment

 

A systems analysis of the beginning braille reader's environment...

  • The Team
  • The Task
  • The Tools

 

The Braille Reader's Instructional Team

illustration of 5 portrait photographs

  • Parents:  Home environment, bedtime stories, first experiences of reading
  • The student: Strengths, struggles, motivation, preferences
  • Classroom teachers & teaching assistants: Typically new to working with a braille reading, content experts 
  • TVI: Experience with braille, reading instruction, AT, materials expert
  • Peers: Sources of support & partnership

 

The Task: Components of Reading

  • Phoenic Awarness: ability to manipulate segments/phoenemes
  • Phonics: sound + symbols correspondence
  • Fluency: Reading rate
  • Vocabulary: Knowledge of words and their meanings
  • Comprehension: Constructing meaning from text
  • *Braille Contractions: 200+ symbols, rules of usage, discrimination

 

Books on Braille Reading Instruction

cover of I-M-Able

 

Resources for Braille Reading Instruction

cover of Building on Patterns

  • Braille Fundamentals
  • Un's the One
  • Building on Patterns
  • Mangold Basic Braille Program
  • Read Naturally
  • Wilson Reading System
  • The same curriculum used by the classroom teacher! 

 

Considerations for Braille Reading Instruction

  • Explicit vs. incidental methods
  • Introduction of contractions
  • Guided reading integration 
  • Paths to Literacy

 

The Tools: The Role of Assistive Technology in Beginning Braille Reading

"For most people, technology makes things easier. For people with disabilities, technology makes things possible." - Mary Pat Radabaugh, IBM

Remember your TEAM and your TASK when choosing your TOOLS

adult hands in fists touching over a table with beverages and snacks

  • Students and their devices do not exist in a vacuum
  • Support is one of the key factors of progress
  • Consider ease of use, learning curve of device
  • Consider experience and engagement of team (and lack thereof)
  • Consider strengths and struggles the student brings to both the task and the tool

 

Perkins Brailler

Perkins SMART Brailler

blue Perkins smartBrailler

  • Auditory input
  • Visual input
  • Tactual input
  • *USB port for saving items

Watch a video of a student using the Perkins SMART Brailler.

Discussion Points

  • What are some advantages and disadvantages of this tool?
  • Which members of the team would it support?
  • What's an example of a task using this tool?

 

Logan Braille Coach

Logan Braille Coach

  • Endlessly customizable braille flashcards
  • Can be adapted to any level of student
  • headphone jack for private use
  • Perfect for an independent activity
  • Easy to use by adults and children alike!
  • Additional tags can be purchased
  • Best kept secret!!

 

Discussion Points

  • What are some advantages and disadvantages of this tool?
  • Which members of the team would it support?
  • What's an example of a task using this tool?

 

Mountbatten Braillewriter...aka Braille Whisperer 

Mount batten brailler

  • Tactual, auditory, & visual feedback (through amazing app!)
  • Keyboard for non braille users to type messages and/or classwork
  • Nemeth, music, & more!
  • Easy to press keys for little fingers
  • Many beginning notetaker functions 

 

 

Discussion Points

  • What are some advantages and disadvantages of this tool?
  • Which members of the team would it support?
  • What's an example of a task using this tool?

 

Refreshable Braille Displays

  • Must either be paired with phones, tablets, or computers using screen reader software
    • Example: Braille Study Mode with JAWS screen reader
  • Modular, mainstream
  • Multiple advantages to starting young!
    • Examples include: VarioUltra, HIMS Edge, Focus 40-->EIBraille, Brailliant, and more

 

Discussion Points

  • What are some advantages and disadvantages of this tool?
  • Which members of the team would it support?
  • What's an example of a task using this tool?

 

Braille Notetakers

BrailleSense U2 notetaker

  • Proprietary-made specifically for braille users
  • Stand-alone device with multiple capabilities
  • Examples include Pronto, BrailleSense Polaris, Braillenote Touch, APH Braille Plus and more
  • Some have visual input, some do not. Click for a video of a student review. 

 

Discussion Points

  • What are some advantages and disadvantages of this tool?
  • Which members of the team would it support?
  • What's an example of a task using this tool?

 

Stay in touch!

@thisismebelinda (LINK TO TWITTER)

 

Collage of assistive technology for beginning braille readers

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