Most kids want the summer off from any work. This was no exception for one of my students I will call Sunshine. Sunshine, mom and I had worked incredibly hard together for the past years to get her caught up to grade level, with no time off.

Sunshine did not begin her blind instruction until the middle of third grade. At that point, she was reading print on a CCTV (closed circuit TV which enlarges print) at 12 wpm. You can't even say she was at the bottom of the class. She was about k-1st grade academic level. She could not see anything on the board and she had to hunch over her work at 2 inches to see what she was doing and every year she got further and further behind her peers because she could not access her education.

To say the least, her mom was getting very stressed about the lack of support for her daughter. Let's just say MOM learned the ropes and is a great advocate now. In 2 years her daughter completely caught up to grade level. She can read braille up to 100-115 wpm, but that varies depending on her reading consistently. Yes, kids forget fast! Those fingers have to be on the braille dots to remember. She also went from not being able to use a computer to really getting to the point where she could teach most aspects of it. She only has 3 fingers but that child can type up around 70wpm and can whip in and out of programs incredibly fast using her JAWS talking software.She does all her work on the computer and emails all assignments to her teacher. Teacher makes comments and emails back grade. Very fast, very efficient.

So now to tell the story. Sunshine REALLY wanted to take the summer off with NO braille reading. When I tested her last week, she was reading around 48wpm, yes her speed had decreased significantly. She was a bit shocked at the decrease. I had her reread the selection and she was up to 100 wpm within 4 minutes. So that is how fast it can come back.

As we talked about her "no reading policy for the summer," I showed her the iPhone and braille display and told her she could text her friends using these tools, but she had to have those good braille skills. Sunshine's eyes lit up 10 fold, and an "Oh yeah" immediately came back. Just finding another way to keep kids moving on the skills they really need.

Lessons and articles to help you:

First Steps in Great Braille Readers

Beginner Braille Reading

Braille Instruction begins at 3 years old

Braille Cheat Sheets

How to STOP scrubbing While reading Braille

Fast Braille Reading

Tricks to Learning Braille in your Teen Years or Later

Free Braille Books-Where to go to get Books

The Synchronicity of Braille & Technology

Braille Rap Song Lyrics

Rap Song to Learn Braille

Children have little fingers that need to be strengthened to press the keys on a regular brailler. Therefore, I want to tell you about the Mountbatten brailler.

I have started students as young as 3 years old on the Mountbatten brailler, and find they can braille with perfect finger positioning.

Click here for the Mountbatten brialler website

Click here to watch the Mountbatten brailler in action

We want to be careful when letting young children use the regular brailler so they don't start poor brailling habits, such as using 2 fingers to press one key. This is not only time consuming, but also very slow because it takes so much effort to press the keys. The Mountbatten brailler, however allows for good habits to form while fingers are growing and getting stronger. Starting out correctly, our children will then be successful braillers with an ability to increase their output as they get older, creating a joy in reading what they wrote

Lessons that will help teach

First Steps in Great Braille Readers

Beginner Braille Reading

Braille Instruction begins at 3 years old

Braille Cheat Sheets

How to STOP scrubbing While reading Braille

Fast Braille Reading

Tricks to Learning Braille in your Teen Years or Later

Free Braille Books-Where to go to get Books

The Synchronicity of Braille & Technology

Braille Rap Song Lyrics

Rap Song to Learn Braille

As I begin the year with my students, the inaccessibility to websites for the blind hits me hard…once again.

Let's just talk about how inaccessible so many school sites are to our students and it seems they should be leading the way.

Many times the sites are so inaccessible and loaded with images instead of actual text. If you have talking software you can quickly see that many words on the page are actually a picture of text and not actual text itself, so there is no way for a blind person to access it with the talking software.

OK, let's go a couple more steps. Worse, teachers assign students to access the website to download lessons—PDF lessons that once again are images of text, not text itself. Worse, teachers require students to do online work on a site that is completely inaccessible.

So back to my students and and school websites. We have to use a mouse to click where we are going–this takes a sighted person–that independence goal goes down the drain. Then we bookmark the page the student needs to be on, so all she has to do is go to her favorites and pull it up quickly. Fortunately, there are enough tricks in the talking software to get her where she needs to go. But if you don't have the knowledge on the talking software, the students are out of luck.

What makes this shocking is it is very easy to make an accessible site. GMAIL is a perfect example. It offers basic HTML or standard. My students can actually do both as they become advanced in their talking software skills, but I always start them out with basic HTML. Simple text all over the page with easy commands to get you to where you are going.

Website designers need to take note and we need to let them know. There is a great lack of knowledge out there–time to teach them too.

 

So many people ask, "What piece of technology should I get for my child?" 

The first and  most important tool is the PC—yes the PC. Nine out of 10 households and businesses use the PC, as in 90%, so if your child does not know how to operate a PC computer, the chances of getting the job of their dreams will diminish quickly. (http://www.geekosystem.com/mac-people-vs-pc-people/)

If your child is blind, get them a PC and talking software and make sure they are educated in every way in MicroOffice Suite….as in Word, excel and PowerPoint.

Until the world changes, that is what every childneeds…then add the wonderful Apple/Mac tools. But until then….your blind child, low vision child, sighted child needs a PC and talking software to handle any type of print disability….dyslexia and other reading disabilities included!!!!!!!

If you need lessons, you can find everything you need at www.yourtechvision.com

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