[blindkid] go for braille!

Doreen Franklin theconelady at yahoo.com
Tue Jun 8 13:26:01 UTC 2010

Joy and Mery-Noel,
Thank you for your encouragement!!! We knew that Torrie would need braille and "accepted" that back in 2007, but trying to get it passed our district has been a big fight. (I got lambasted by the O&M at one meeting when I asked for braille). We had the option of what "fight" to pursue in 2009 -- that of cane or braille as I could only handle doing one at a time. Since Torrie was banging into our furniture all the time, and then she had a low vision eval done which indicated a loss of peripherals in all 4 quadrants, we knew she needed the cane instruction. It took a year, and an IEE for O&M which blew the socks off of our district, and so we have instruction (although I am using that word loosely). 
Our daughter is receiving the diagonal technique only and I cannot get a "timeline" from the O&M for when he will move to constant contact and/or two-touch. (District director asked for timeline to be sent to us on 5/27; I followed up on 6/2 to director - he did another email - and I still have nothing. I have just done an email myself about diagonal technique and her not being safe as she is not reading things in front of her whole body, just to the left side of her with that technique. I have also asked for a timeline for when he will be teaching constant contact to her).  Right now, he is doing sighted guide with the teachers, bus drivers and himself with Torrie (school is done this Friday), but David and I have NO INSTRUCTION in it! (I learned it as an emergency evacuation of blind adults when I was at the Lighthouse for the Blind back in 1987. It is fuzzy and I don't have all the ins and outs and certainly not the "cues" he is using).  This has
 been an unbelievable battle for us ... and unfortunately our O&M is legally blind so the district believes his word as "gospel" as he lives it! And they are not looking anywhere "outside" of what HE says! 
As for braille and other services, I started in the visual disabilities program at FSU in January, and will have braille. I have pre-braille things for her to do right now - her fingers are too stiff so I will be working with her over the summer for pre-braille things as well as teaching her braille letters to match her printed letters. I have not geared up for the braille fight yet ... I am letting them hang themselves and I believe the kindergarten teacher will finally "see" that she cannot and will not be able to keep up with her sighted peers. In pe-k, she only read one letter at a time instead of actual words and sentences. Once that begins in August in kindergarten, she will quickly fall behind and the braille will be pushed from the school -- and that is what I am waiting for, on one hand. I also wanted the TVI to hang herself with her font size .... Torrie has supposedly been referred to the low vision initiative (I filled out my paperwork but
 am unsure if she was actually referred by the TVI) to use magnifiers, which I am okay with also. But I will be teaching her braille now so that she doesn't have to do the "catch up" that I am fearing could happen. (we have a 14-yr old and 2 yrs ago, she had to do oral presentations on her reports. I wondered how would Torrie be able to give an oral presentation and address her audience and look at them when the paper would be on her nose for her to read!) I have not even pulled out the IDEA federal law yet!!! 
I don't think our district much cares .... I still have heard nothing from our superintendent about her not using the cane at her graduation. They are too concerned with the FCAT reports not coming out due to a glitch with the scoring. So Torrie just gets lost off to the side. I am not sure where I will be going with it .... it has been suggested to do a letter to the editor. I may call the DoE and talk to the person I've talked to before. 
I am glad I am getting everyone's suggestions and words of encouragement! It just reinforces what David and I have "known" as necessary tools for Torrie for her tool box. Too bad the district doesn't get it yet! I don't know how I can do this for another 13 years!
Please keep any suggestions coming ... they are certainly helping!!! We are most appreciative of everything!!!!

support Torrie in the Race for Independence;
go to www.raceforindependence.org/goto/TorrieF

--- On Tue, 6/8/10, Merry-Noel Chamberlain <owinm at yahoo.com> wrote:

From: Merry-Noel Chamberlain <owinm at yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: [blindkid] go for braille!
To: " (for parents of blind children)NFBnet Blind Kid Mailing List" <blindkid at nfbnet.org>
Date: Tuesday, June 8, 2010, 6:52 AM

I second what Joy said about Braille.  Enlarging only can go so far.  It's great for the child to learn the shapes of print letters so they can read raised signs (ie:  Ladies, Men) but when it comes to learning and reading for pleasure - Braille is the answer!  If Braille becomes a part of the child's life early - it becomes a part of the child's life forever!  As a Teacher of Visually Impaired Children, I have had several older students move into my district who didn't know Braille and it is much harder 1) for them to learn it and 2) for them to accept it.  Often times, they would much rather lug a huge CCTV from classroom to classroom - NOT!  They end up having to go to a special room where their CCTV is located - leaving their classroom and peers in order to read an assignment.  Wouldn't it be better for the child to be able to stay with their peers?   Plus, as they are learning Braille (mostly because they have lost more vision and
can't see the large print any more) they often fall behind and struggle to keep up with their peers.  The best gift you can give your child is the opportunity to learn Braille as soon as possible.  I sure wish I had that opportunity myself!  Frankly if I received a student who's IEP stated the child needed 26 point font - I would start teaching Braille RIGHT AWAY!

--- On Tue, 6/8/10, Joy Orton <ortonsmom at gmail.com> wrote:

From: Joy Orton <ortonsmom at gmail.com>
Subject: [blindkid] go for braille!
To: "NFB Blindkid list" <blindkid at nfbnet.org>
Date: Tuesday, June 8, 2010, 3:29 AM

Hi Doreen,

I'm so sorry you had a painful experience with the pre-K graduation. I've
had to do my own advocating (I hope modeling for my daughter) for proper
mobility help with dance recitals, talent shows, and so on (as in, "don't
drag or push her, please"). There are lots of opportunities as your child
goes through school.

You mentioned that your child was uncomfortable with the type that the TVI
has chosen for next year, 26 or so? That is much bigger than "large print."

If your child is unable to read 14 point type, then I would strongly urge
you to go ahead and ask for braille instruction. In kindergarten or first
grade, 24 or 26 point type is probably a matter of enlarging the papers, but
if the student can only read at 26 or larger, what will you do when she has
to read 20 pages (or more) for a history assignment in middle school, or 100
pages for a literature assignment in high school ... If she has braille
instruction and the skills to read braille, she can keep up with reading

I am sure there are oher parents who can address how difficult it is to
learn braille during high school, rather than early on. If your daughter can
see the huge print, then let her be a "dual reader," but please give her the
opportunity to learn braille.

It sounds like you have an uphill battle in getting what you want from the
district, but remember that it is not just what you want, but what your
child needs in order to be successful, and also what the law requires. Hang
in there.

Joy Orton
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