[blindkid] Technology and Little Kid

Heather craney07 at rochester.rr.com
Fri Feb 19 01:31:12 UTC 2010

Several people have brought up the reversal issue and I think it depends on 
the age it is introduced, because for someone who already knows braille it 
might literally mean reversing the letters, whereas if a kid learns it in 
kindergardin both brailler and slate might become second nature.  Bottom 
line, as a home educator of my own son I would show him both, and if he took 
to the slate like a duck to water, i would encourage him, but if it 
frustrated him to the point where he wanted nothing to do with braille or 
the perkins, it would be put on hold.  I would like him to be proficent at 
both, but I want him to naturally love reading both in braille and on 
recorded media, and if pushing a particular skill looked as if it would harm 
that natural love of learning, especially learning literature and braille, I 
would not allow that to happen.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Albert J Rizzi" <albert at myblindspot.org>
To: "'NFBnet Blind Kid Mailing List,(for parents of blind children)'" 
<blindkid at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Thursday, February 18, 2010 8:15 PM
Subject: Re: [blindkid] Technology and Little Kid

>I do not even know where to begin. First wow! these few  threads have given
> me more insight and have shifted my position on things as never before. 1. 
> I
> am sickened by the fact that braille is not introduced to children at as
> early an age as possible. 2. I have learned how mentors can  color choices
> by predetermining  what is or is not best for children and unintentionally
> limit that children's academic growth. 3. I learned braille as a sighted
> person and I too was forced to believe that writing braile with a slate 
> and
> stylus was best learned by inverting  or perverting braille as I now have
> learned. In this one thread I understood and now own why I do not and
> eventually will carry a slate and stylus as I was inverting or reversing 
> the
> image. when I used my perkins brailler I see the dots on the page just as 
> I
> would feel them as I ran my fingers across the page. Now I realize that is
> what keeps me from using a slate. I either use a hand held recorder which
> unnerves others, or as I recently experienced  an intern of mine only uses
> his computer. We were in a meeting and he did nothing but tap tap tap on 
> the
> computer. I had to stop him and ask him if he was paying attention or not.
> He told me that he was taking notes. I knew he had to be missing much of 
> the
> important   conversation that was going on. I immediately  suggested he
> invest in a hand held recorder. He is 26, and has been blind all his life.
> My senior in a way. yet he did not take notes with braille as I later
> learned he was not expected to know it for some reason. now I learned
> braille as a sighted individual he learned it as a blind individual, yet
> neither of us used it to take notes quietly and unobtrusively which is
> always possible with a slate and stylus. I will most certainly be trying 
> to
> walk the walk and talk the talk and use my slate more then my handheld. 
> Very
> sobering  and eye opening thread.
> Albert J. Rizzi, M.Ed.
> CEO/Founder
> My Blind Spot, Inc.
> 90 Broad Street - 18th Fl.
> New York, New York  10004
> www.myblindspot.org
> PH: 917-553-0347
> Fax: 212-858-5759
> "The person who says it cannot be done, shouldn't interrupt the one who is
> doing it."
> Visit us on Facebook LinkedIn
> -----Original Message-----
> From: blindkid-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:blindkid-bounces at nfbnet.org] On
> Behalf Of H. Field
> Sent: Thursday, February 18, 2010 6:42 PM
> To: NFBnet Blind Kid Mailing List,(for parents of blind children)
> Subject: Re: [blindkid] Technology and Little Kid
> Dear Richard,
> The young child has no difficulty with the mirror image concept of
> braille because he/she doesn't have one. The reason is simple. If a
> child, is taught that "l" is dot one, two, three,then, wherever the
> child is told he/she will find dot one, two, three, there they will
> push the stylus. In over 30 years of teaching young blind children to
> write braille using a slate and stylus, I have never had a child who
> experiences difficulty with reversing things. I myself was first
> taught braille as a five-year-old using a slate and stylus. I was not
> given a braille writer until third grade. I can vividly remember
> learning to write with both devises and reversals was never an issue.
> If a child clearly knows the dots required for each letter then all
> they need is to be told where to press each dot, given some practice
> and feedback and reversals are a complete non-issue. I would strongly
> encourage you to work with your daughter on developing at least basic
> competence with the slate and stylus.
> This idea that writing on a slate is fraught with the problem of
> reversals is, in my experience, a problem suffered by sighted learners
> who are used to picturing things in their heads. Indeed, this very
> fact is a major reason why adult teachers don't want to teach the
> slate. They think the child will have the same problems with reversals
> that they do. But, as usual, it is plain stupid reasoning when one
> makes the jump from "I as an adult have trouble with braille and the
> slate and stylus" to "so I won't ever teach it to a blind child." I
> have met one extremely competent blind person, a braille user, who
> doesn't like the slate. Guess why? She lost her vision around age ten
> and her sighted braille teacher said that to write on the slate she
> would need to reverse everything in her head. What an impossible and
> totally unnecessary task. Of course no one could achieve any speed or
> accuracy using that method, and, after such torture, would not have
> any fondness for the slate and stylus.
> But, even if a young blind child did experience some initial trouble
> with reversals when writing on the slate, does this mean that the
> child should be deprived of the nonvisual equivalent of a pen or
> pencil? Just because some young print writers sometimes write "b" and
> "d" or "q" and "p" the wrong way, do early childhood teachers across
> the nation abandon the use of pencil and paper for young sighted
> children? Of course not and no one would be so irresponsible as to
> suggest that we do so. Yet, this is largely what has happened
> regarding the slate and stylus. The decline in slate usage was aided
> by the rise of the "print at any cost" philosophy among sighted
> teachers of children with low vision. Though many of these children
> were Functionally Blind, they were told to use what sight they had.
> completely nonfunctional strategies, such as the following, were, and
> still are, taught to children with low vision. "well, you can use
> print because, provided you have the right lighting, a very specific
> kind of very dark ink pen, the correct dark line paper, can write
> slowly and are not having trouble with eye-strain today, you're a
> print reader. You don't need braille and certainly don't need a slate
> and stylus to take notes." The fact that many of these students never
> manage to write fast enough and rarely experience the perfect
> conditions required to enable them to cmpete on equal terms with their
> sighted peers/colleagues, does not appear to be a concern to the
> teachers taking this stand. Somehow, in some strange, deep part of the
> human psyche, having the student act sighted and using print, even
> when they can't read what they write, when the student is complaining
> of eye-strain and head-aches and print is not working for a student,
> seems to be preferable to calling a child blind and giving them
> totally competitive tools, like a slate and stylus and braille. Sadly,
> because of the misconceptions about blindness, many parents would
> rather have a print using pretend sighted child than a real, braille
> using blind child as well.
> Why have I gone onto my antiprint rant you may ask? Because I believe
> that there are psychological reasons, such as seeing the slate as
> old-fashioned and low tech, too hard, too slow, too blind, and too
> hard to teach, that influence teachers who don't or won't teach it to
> today's blind children. There's no real data on slate usage among
> those who are profficient users. I've never seen a survey seeking real
> data on the value, or nonvalue, of slate and stylus to blind people.
> Yet, somehow the decision that slate skills are no longer necessary
> has been made.
> This is sheer foolishness, the kind of logic that says because we can
> now drive cars we don't need bicycles, or because we have replaced the
> outdoor Main Street shopping experience with indoor shopping malls, we
> don't need umbrellas.
> I cannot imagine the innumerable inconveniences I would experience
> without recourse to my slate. I Write shopping lists on the bus, I
> take notes quietly in meetings, I jot down phone numbers and addresses
> of new contacts, I write or retrieve information in extremely noisy
> environments with ease, I have quickly made notes for an impromptu
> meeting, written down doses and instructions at the doctor's, copied
> out a recipe I found in a magazine in the dentist's waiting-room,
> noted the name and number of taxi drivers whom I wished to report for
> good or bad reasons, written down info a bus or train clerk gave me on
> my next connection, and who knows what I may still use it to write.
> The
> possibilities are endless... rather like the excuses that people give
> why young children should be denied the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
> to learn to be competent slate users.
> As for technology for a young child, it depends on many factors but
> should include games and teaching/learning devices that offer the same
> exposure to the concept of what techology is and does that sighted
> children are given. The child's preferences, parents' preferences and
> the available budget as well as the co-operation of local educators
> are all factors that will influcnce choices.
> Warmest regards,
> Heather Field
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Richard Holloway" <rholloway at gopbc.org>
> To: "NFBnet Blind Kid Mailing List,(for parents of blind children)"
> <blindkid at nfbnet.org>
> Sent: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 11:42 PM
> Subject: Re: [blindkid] Technology and Little Kid
> Certainly the slate and stylus (as someone else mentioned) is not a
> bad idea, but a child in this age range is probably not going to have
> the fine motor control to master the tool's use easily or likely be
> ready for the whole mirror image concept.
> A child of nearly any age can begin using a Perkins Braillewriter-- I
> know we were using one by at least age three. At the very least a
> braille novice can "scribble" on a braillewriter, just like my sighted
> almost-4-year-old scribbles on paper with a crayon all the time.
> Braillewriting skill with a young child emerges at least somewhat like
> writing emerges with a sighted child-- not all letters at once and at
> first, just like penmanship is typically pretty poor-- this after the
> child has first just pressed the keys at random-- indeed "scribbling"
> just like sighted kids. Getting the feel of the tools to use is an
> important first step. It is hard for small hands to properly press and
> form braille mechanically with a Perkins, but you are building hand
> and finger strength and forming braille concepts all along the way.
> Many schools can provide a second braillewriter for the student to use
> at home for free once the child is in school.
> I think that often the way to go is to immerse the child within all
> the options that can be gotten as the child appears ready to take to
> them-- at least that was our theory when our daughter was born, and in
> fact, it continues to be the same way to this day, then we focus on
> what she seems ready to take to-- she'll ultimately use most all of
> these things. There is also an entire range of tactile graphics
> solutions and manipulatives. You can produce these with pipe cleaners,
> and a bottle of glue, or you can use a multi-thousand dollar
> thermoform; quite a range of options exists.
> Now at age 7, Kendra uses a BrailleNote and PAC Mate daily but still
> uses a Perkins often, as well as an abacus for her math, JAWS on her
> computer and so forth. She also works well with refreshable braille
> and that can be a really handy option. The next big challenge I see
> for her is needing to learn a qwerty keyboard, so there can be a lot
> of technology in use by an early age.
> It is also really important to expose the child to braille as much as
> possible. A sighted child sees print everywhere. Make certain this
> child runs across braille often. Now in first grade and a proficient
> braille reader, our first grade daughter still runs across the braille
> stickers on things all over the house-- refrigerator, dishwasher,
> table, drawer, oven, door, bed-- you name it. This will cause the
> child to ask questions-- just like a sighted child-- "what is this"
> and later "what do these letters say?-- what do they mean?" Also, use
> twin vision books-- sighted kids look at letters while parents read
> most every time. Blind kids can do the same-- that's why it is best
> when adding braille to a print book to always put the braille below
> the print-- a sighted reader can still read while small hands are
> exploring the braille.
> Screen readers can be used at that age as well as a victor reader.
> Things like Mt Battens are expensive but potentially useful, but be
> careful that an electronic (and expensive) solution like a Mt. Batten
> or a PAC Mate is not learned at the expense of being able to use a
> mechanical braillewriter as that need will almost certainly come up
> all of this child's life, at least from time to time.
> I'd like to rework this link, and our site is about to get a facelift
> overall too but here are some technology ideas that you might direct
> her towards. Let her see a range of options and then she can decide
> which way she wants to proceed.
> http://www.gopbc.org/gopbc_technology.htm
> Richard
> On Feb 17, 2010, at 10:01 PM, David Andrews wrote:
>> I got asked a question, the other day, and since most of my
>> experience is with blind adults -- I didn't know quite what to say.
>> A woman said she had a four year old totally blind daughter, and she
>> wanted her to keep up with her peers in technology, so what
>> assistive technology/technology is there  -- should she start using
>> with her child?
>> Dave
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