[Nfbc-info] Attention: Parents, Teachers and Supporters of Young Blind Children struggling withliteracy

Aziza C daydreamingncolor at gmail.com
Sun Aug 30 02:11:41 UTC 2009

I think that could be a good idea Mary. Thank you. Do I need to do
anything to make this happen?
Kevin will be unable to attend, but I have all I need to make a booth
work, including a set of Tack-Tiles, and a Braille Teaser Puzzle, plus
some brochures.

On 8/29/09, Mary Willows <mwillows at sbcglobal.net> wrote:
> Yes, they are wonderful.  I have seen them at CTEVH.  Do you or Kevin want
> to have a booth at the state convention?
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Aziza C" <daydreamingncolor at gmail.com>
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> Sent: Saturday, August 29, 2009 2:25 PM
> Subject: [Nfbc-info] Attention: Parents,Teachers and Supporters of Young
> Blind Children struggling withliteracy
> How many of us have struggled through comprehending Braille upon first
> being introduced to it. How many of us have watched another child
> struggle through the attempts to comprehend Braille upon their first
> few encounters? Reading is difficult, especially at first. It isn't
> often a child will "want," to sit still and turn the pages of a book
> for an hour when the alternative is running outside, or watching
> television. Parents, teachers, supporters, and even the children
> themselves understand these struggles. And so does this man who gives
> this account.
> Kevin C. Murphy
> Fourteen, blind since infancy, multiply handicapped, Kevin knew
> about letters. Letters excited him in the way angels, UFOs,
> ghosts, and monsters excite many of us -- lots of mystery, little
> practical value. His favorite television programs, SESAME STREET
> and THE ELECTRIC COMPANY mimicked Madison Avenue's technique of
> manipulating human want. Kevin wanted to read. For this child,
> reading had to mean Braille. Yet by 1981 "Braille" for Kevin, was a
> mispronunciation of "fail." Preceded by dread, overshadowed by fear,
> each class was cursed by confusion, each ended in depression.
> Ending six years of effort, Kevin's teachers abandoned efforts to
> teach Braille to him. I believed that Braille was beyond Kevin's
> grasp. Yet, a distant part of me raged against that illiterate life.
> Inwardly I hesitated to post full cost and cause to Kevin's account.
> Kevin -- and Heather, my adopted daughter -- were multiply
> handicapped and blind. No fear, nor excessive concern about
> blindness gripped me. My children were who they were, I saw nothing in
> need of fixing -- except, perhaps, in the society that shunned them.
> I nursed a parent's terror of Braille, a thing so exotic, so
> beyond my experience, that surely my ignorance of it can only damage
> my child. But what harm could I do now? Kevin's legacy of Braille's
> letters, alphabets, grief, effort, and failure were now discarded as
> junk. I could do no harm.
> Kevin could, at least, learn that symbolic languages exist,
> function. He might not read a book, but he might understand how
> others do that. Many who've never piloted aircraft understand their
> workings.
> I searched for means such that Kevin might keep what literacy he
> had, perhaps to re-shape that knowledge base a bit to make life less
> confusing to him. The approach: "Hey Kevin, want to work with Dad?" is
> not a proven winner with fourteen-year-olds.
> "Hey Kevin, want to work on Braille?" was a certain loser in
> that age.
> I mutilated Christmas toys, fashioned my first TACK-TILES® .
> Little building blocks became Braille cells. "Hey Kevin, guess what I
> did to your Lego® blocks!" was as perfect a "come on"
> as any ever devised. I let his very annoyed half-wondering fingers survey
> the
> damage thoroughly before accounting for myself -or mentioning B-----.
> Then we built words and sentences on toy boards meant to
> serve as front lawns. I was poorly prepared for the success of early
> sessions with Kevin and TACK-TILES® . In that setting, failure meant
> only that I would deny him his great pleasure of confiscating my
> TACK-TILES® , forfeiting opportunity to lodge them onto his own board.
> Here Braille's challenge was a benign contest of human beings, fun,
> much more to his comfort and liking. Braille was lodged in a world of
> his own -- less like the adult's. He allowed me to tease and fence
> with him around his knowledge and ability to use this new learning
> tool. He revealed secrets about his unique learning style, remained
> at task until I wondered if I had an attention disorder. Kevin's
> instructor -- his father -- had not the beginning of an idea how to
> proceed. That helped immensely. Kevin and the TACK-TILES® took
> complete charge. Success, followed success in the wake of success.
> His teachers's earlier efforts finally bore fruit. Kevin was
> able to read his grade one Braille papers by the end of that month.
> Nearly nine years would pass before another child would learn to read
> with TACK-TILES®. Five more years beyond that would pass before we
> could afford to make them commercially available in February, 1995.
> In March of 2009, I had the chance to meet Kevin Murphey, the
> developer of Tack-Tiles. I stood before his table in a huge exhibit
> hall marveling at how the product had evolved since I used them to
> help me learn to read as a child. I was listening distractedly to him
> deliver a sales pitch to the gentlman standing beside me. Explaining
> his reasons for building the blocks in the first place, and remarking
> that he'd never met another student besides his own son who had used
> these products to learn how to read, although he'd sold many. I looked
> up startled and turned towards him, hesitantly I put out my hand and
> spoke up. "I learned how to read with these blocks." Kevin stopped
> talking and turned to face me, surprise and pleasure in his voice as
> he asked, "Really?" I smiled and I confirmed that I had. Idly I played
> with his newest product, Braille Teasers, a sort of flat puzzle that
> makes you think about where the letters can go provided one empty
> space. The object is to get the board alphabitized without removing
> the legos which is considered cheating. We talked and talked like old
> friends, and then I asked if I could take a picture with him. He
> agreed on the conditions that I email him a copy of the photo, which I
> found to be a fair price.
> As I sat at National Convention I heard a constant message. We must
> increase Braille Literacy. Our kids need to be taught Braille.
> Braille, Braille and more Braille. This brought a smile to my lips,
> however, once I returned home I began to think. Braille Readers are
> Leaders, Slate Pals, these programs reenforce Braille Skills that
> children already possess, encouraging them to read. However, I have
> yet to hear of a program geared towards teaching children Braille when
> they know none to begin with. I called up my new friend Kevin and
> launched in to my creative mode. My excitement prooved contagious, and
> Kevin agreed to allow me a shot at promoting the product that made me
> the Braille Reader I am today.
> Tack-Tiles are tiny lego blocks with Braille letters, contractions,
> numbers, or music symbols on them, depending on which set you
> purchase. Sets can also be purchased in different languages. This
> product can be extremely benificial because children do not realize
> they are learning. I would rapidly lose interest in my reading and
> begin to build things with my legos, stopping in fascination as I
> realized my house had words on the roof. These legos can hold a
> child's attention routed to literacy without his or her knowledge,
> thus providing them with more exposure and practice, and making
> reading fun.
> It is my belief that organizations, and schools helping young
> students, or students with multi-disabilities should own a set of
> Tack-Tiles. If anyone has any questions or an interest in this
> product, please don't hesitate to email me off list at:
> daydreamingncolor at gmail.com
> Or, visit the Tac-Tiles home page at:
> http://www.tack-tiles.com/
> Aziza Cano
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