Thanks to the invention of the braille language, visually impaired children can enjoy the wonderful world of storytelling. Reading stimulates the mind, arouses imagination, and gives children a hobby they can enjoy for a lifetime; the gift of literacy is one of the most valuable things we can give to our children. If your child is visually impaired, here are some steps you can take to familiarize yourself with how to read braille, so you can help your child learn and navigate the world at the same pace as his or her peers.
Get a good instruction book
A good instruction book should be full of practical exercises and examples that are easily understood by both you and your child. Just Enough to Know Better: A Braille Primer by Eileen Curran is a good place to start, but talk to your optometrist about other resources available.
Take a braille course
The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), a charity that supports the visually impaired, and other organizations can offer or refer you to free or low-cost courses in your community. The CNIB also offers several free resources and programs for both parents of visually impaired children and the children themselves to teach them how to read braille.
Buy a braille printer, label maker, or writer
To learn something, especially a new language, it helps to be surrounded by it at all times. You can find label makers online for about $50. Braille printers and braille writers (a braille typewriter) tend to cost much more, but your optometrist, school district, or the CNIB may be able to provide one to you at a reduced cost. Use the printer, writer or label maker to label items in your home to immerse yourself in the language and enable your child to use the braille alphabet as a normal part of their life and development.
Embrace braille in your environment
Braille letters are all around us: at the bank, in elevators—even on our money. In fact, there are now several electronic technologies that can incorporate it into their function. Make a habit to point it out to your child when noticed in public places; encourage them to experience it in settings outside the classroom or your home. There are a variety of products that have braille on them today that many people don’t realize; these items include products you might find at your local pharmacy (for example, some bandage brands) as well as fast food cup lids. Many restaurants have a dedicated braille menu: ask your server to see if your favourite restaurant carries one. Online novelty shops also have a wide variety of gifts and personal items that incorporate braille such as mugs, t-shirts, hats, and jewelry boxes. Finally, don’t forget about your local library! They likely carry many of your favourite stories in braille, which could be a wonderful way to introduce yourself, and your children, to this tactile writing system.
The more you can integrate your child into the greater world around them, the more comfortable they will be while learning how to read braille.
The optometrists at FYidoctors can help you during this time by answering your questions and connecting you to the resources you need in order to set your child, and family up for success when learning this new language. Book your appointment today to start learning how to read braille.
To learn more about how technology can help visually impaired students, visit our blog.