Tricks to Learning Braille in your Teen Years or Later

Tricks to Learning Braille in your Teen Years or Later

I use this one particular method repeatedly because it serves me so well. Well, it actually serves my students well. Especially those who lose their sight later: Later is later than 3rd grade. You just need to employ different strategies to achieve the same goals.

One small example. A student came to me during the summer to gain Braille skills. He had been low vision trying to "do Braille" but poor vision gives poor speed.  He had learned most of the alphabet and a handful of contractions, but could not read Braille at all and had a difficult time remembering how to braille in general. I told him to close his eyes and feel…his fingers tuned in as his poor vision tuned out.  I had him place his fingers over top of mine as I placed my hands on the Braille sheet of words. I slowly moved my hands in the "butterfly" motion, which I call it, because your hands glide together across, split a few words in, and the right hand finishes the sentence and the left hand begins the next in a smooth floating motion…just like a butterfly. I increased the speed so he could feel the gentle and easy movement across the page. He had no idea it was that easy.

I told him he would be reading Braille by the end of summer if he would commit at least an hour, but I asked for 2 hours a day…Ok, I know in my head, what teenage boy is going to read for 2 hours a day in the summer, or really ever?..but I put it out there. I know with even a minimal amount of effort he can do it with the next method I use.

He first begins with brailling. He only brailles about himself. His life. What he likes or does not like. I have him braille 3-4 rows of the exact same words in a sentence, using all contractions. He first tells me the sentences he wants to use. I pick out all the contracted words and have him braille these first, over and over until his fingers start to flow. Then I have him braille the sentences. Example. I like to fish. (he will braille that for 3-4 rows–sometimes more depending on the ability of the child's learning patterns). Next row. I like to fish with my dad.
I have him use 11 x 11 paper, so really, only those 2 sentences fit on a page. He takes out what he has just brailled and positions his hands on the braille paper. At first, I need to help him read the page. However, by the second reading he can do it almost independently. Before he goes home for the day, he has his braille sheets to practice for the next couple of days along with flash cards of a brailled words that he had difficulty with in reading.

There are a couple things going on here. I need him to get the flow of his hands reading well so he cannot be struggling with reading the braille. That is where we get all those bad habits from; scrubbing the braille, flying fingers, 1 handed reading. The reading must be easy at first and if it is about the person, they remember. With the constant repetition of the words, he begins picking up the feel of the contraction and the word and flows through the page.

By the end of the summer, as in 2 months, he was reading Braille at 32 words per minute and he only practiced reading about 3 hours a week. On his final day of testing his skills, I asked him, "Are you surprised at how fast you can read Braille?" Very matter of fact, he said "No, you told me I could, so I expected it."

When he went back to his school, he emailed me and told me his teacher was very impressed with his braille reading ability, both ability to read it, but read it with a beautiful 2 handed flow.

Lessons that will help teach

Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2003 and XP  
Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2010 and Windows 7 with JAWS  
Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2010 and Windows 7 with Window EYES
 Eight lessons on and JAWS  
 Everything you need to use GMAIL in basic HTML or standard view  
SKYPE—for Regular Vision, Low Vision, and Blind  
JAWS and Internet—how to get Going and Moving


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