From the Braille Pals Buzz: Incorporating Braille in Your Child’s Classroom

As part of the Braille Reading Pals program, I get a monthly email newsletter called “The Braille Pals Buzz.”  In the latest issue (Volume 2, Issue 7), they have a great article on incorporating braille into your child’s classroom.  They have some great ideas on things to make a “regular” classroom accessible and friendly for both B/VI and regularly-sighted kids, so I thought I’d pass the article along.  The article in its entirety is posted below:

Incorporating Braille in Your Child’s Classroom

Classrooms for young children have print displayed around the classroom for
sighted children, with the alphabet posted in several places. Objects around the
classroom are labeled with children’s names. Print books are everywhere. As you
work on planning for your child’s upcoming year in day care, preschool,
kindergarten, or the primary grades, make sure that Braille is everywhere for
your blind child as well. Work with your child’s teachers, school
administrators, paraprofessionals, and any other persons who will be involved in
your child’s education to incorporate Braille into your child’s classroom
environment. The following tips will help you in providing a school setting that
incorporates Braille for your child:

  • Have a variety of Braille books available in the classroom and the library
    for your child. When your child goes to the library with the other students, he
    or she should be able to check out a book in Braille. See our Braille Book Resources page for several sources where your
    school can purchase Braille books.
  • Label everything with your child’s name in Braille. If sighted children have
    print names on their supplies, desks, cubby holes, etc, your child should have
    his or her name in Braille on belongings, as well.
  • Put a Braille label wherever there is a print label for sighted children
    around the classroom. Often different areas of the classroom are labeled. For
    example, there might be a label on the “homework” tray. Label this in Braille.
    You can use transparent labeling tape and a Braille labeler or a labeler attachment for a Braillerwriter. Any of these products
    can be purchased from the NFB Independence Market.
  • Have a Perkins Brailler and/or slate and stylus readily accessible for your
    child. Your school should provide this. Just as a sighted child has pencils
    readily available, your child needs utensils for writing in Braille.
  • Post a Braille alphabet. In classrooms for young children, the print
    alphabet is usually posted in several places. The teacher could post an enlarged
    Braille alphabet so that he or she and the other class members can see it. It
    will help the other students get used to having Braille in the classroom.
  • Label room numbers in the school in Braille. This will help your child be
    more independent when he or she is walking around the school. Although your
    child will be with other classmates, your child should be able to find areas
    around the school independently. Your child should have the opportunity to find
    rooms by using Braille, just as sighted children use print.
  • Post a tactile map of the school. This is just another tool that your child
    can use to become familiar with the school. It will also enable your child to
    begin to learn, with the help of the teacher of blind
    students, how to read tactile maps.
  • Label bus numbers in Braille. This is another way to help your child to be
    more independent. If the bus numbers are in Braille, your child can find his or
    her bus without sighted assistance.
  • All of your child’s materials should be provided in Braille. The school
    needs to have a plan for how the materials will be provided. They need to assign
    someone who will transcribe the materials.
  • Encourage your child’s teacher to create tactile bulletin boards. All of the
    print on the bulletin board should be in Braille. Write picture descriptions on
    clear sticky Braille paper, which you can either purchase as
    individual sheets for the Braillewriter or as tractor feed for a Braille
    embosser, and place them directly over the photos. Each element on the bulletin
    board can be made tactile so a blind child can get the most out of the board.
    For example, if there are flowers on the board, make them out of tissue paper or
    craft foam so they pop out of the board. If the bulletin board is about cars,
    and the border has cars on it, glue toy cars along the border.

These suggestions are only about incorporating Braille into your child’s
environment at school. There are many other ways to get your blind child
adjusted to school. Several parents have written excellent articles about how
they worked with school personnel to make the adjustment to school go more
smoothly for their young blind children. Read the following articles published
in Future Reflections, a magazine published by the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults (AAF) and the National
Organization of Parents of Blind Children (NOPBC):

Kendra’s Kindergarten Year: As Good As It Gets by Stephanie
Kieszak-Holloway (Future Reflections, Special Issue: A Celebration of
Braille)

Kyra’s Kindergarten Year by Barbara Matthews (Future
Reflections, Special Issue 2004)

Suggestions for Working with Hannah By Jill Weatherd (Future
Reflections, Summer/Fall 1999)

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