[Pibe-division] Large Print or Braille: Reflections of a Mother & of a Low Vision Young Adult

DrV pumpkinracer at gmail.com
Fri May 13 08:49:12 CDT 2011

You can find the posts on in the May blindkid archives (

On Fri, May 13, 2011 at 5:10 AM, Joanne Zucker <jezu36 at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Hello,
> Would you please let me know specifically where I can find these
> perspectives.  They are a reflection of me growing up with low vision and I
> am currently in a TVI program, getting my Masters.  I would like to
> reference these in my class discussions.  Thank you for your assistance.
> Joanne
>  ------------------------------
> *From:* DrV <pumpkinracer at gmail.com>
> *To:* braille-n-teach at mlist.cde.ca.gov; Professionals in Blindness
> Education Division List <pibe-division at nfbnet.org>
> *Sent:* Fri, May 13, 2011 1:00:13 AM
> *Subject:* [Pibe-division] Large Print or Braille: Reflections of a Mother
> & of a Low Vision Young Adult
> Hi All,
> The topic of Large Print vs Braille came up recently on the NFB Parent
> Listserv. I realize that everyone’s situation is different & am passing no
> judgments, but would like to share the following 2 responses for they
> illustrate an important perspective & complement each other nicely. The
> first is a really well written post by the mother of a low vision child, the
> second is a post by a low vision young adult.
> 1. One Mother’s Perspective:
> My daughter is also "low vision" and began school as a print reader. The
> large print textbooks were always in black and white - even the maps and
> charts! Plus there is the added burden of having multiple (and heavy) large
> print books for one regular print book. While in high school she was able to
> get a few of her text books on CD. Usually, her large print text books were
> ordered in early spring prior to the beginning of school in the fall. I
> would suggest calling to make sure this is done. You will also need to get a
> copy of the list of classroom books for the upcoming year. Start working
> ahead of time to locate the books. All of them won't be available. I don't
> know how may times a book was copied, NOT bound, and given to my daughter as
> a stack of paper. I'm sure you can figure out the outcome of that!
> I would like to caution you about how hard it is for a large print reader
> to be successful in school. What I say doesn't mean she won't be successful,
> but she will struggle to keep up with her peers. Your daughter is young and
> most print in books and text books for younger children is usually very
> large. I believe 18 pt. font is the standard size font for large print
> readers. First graders usually have even larger font sizes. As your daughter
> progresses through school, each grade, the print becomes smaller and the
> amount of reading increases. A child with partial vision will never match
> the reading rates of totally sighted children. She will still need to
> complete the same assignments as her peers. She will still need to read all
> the books.
> When our CTVI's do reading assessments for our "low vision" children, it is
> usually done in optimum conditions such as: clear, crisp reading material
> (large print copies are often grainy), quality lighting and usually not for
> an extended period of time. At the end of the assessment the kids are deemed
> "visual" learners. I assume this is determined because our kids are able to
> read print, but they don't take into account other obstacles. When our low
> vision kids are faced with reading novels, with very small print, they are
> often fatigued after a short while. My own daughter complained of neck
> aches, back aches, and head aches from the strain of visual reading.
> Homework always took twice as long if not longer. Most nights usually ended
> in tears from fatigue. Parents presume the professionals such as CTVI's have
> the knowledge and foresight of best educational decisions for our children.
> The fact is, that most hold low expectations for their educational outcome.
> Many don't know braille or how to teach it. Most have the presumption that
> braille is hard. Many say how horrible it is to ask a child to wear sleep
> shades to learn braille. None of my daughter's CTVI's ever witnessed what it
> took for her to complete her homework visually. While I complained, it fell
> on deaf ears.
> I write this to you as one mother to another. Children do not have to be
> "totally blind" to benefit from braille. Low vision kids who learn braille
> are able to keep up with their peers in all reading material. You will hear
> this often - braille is an equalizer! My own daughter began teaching herself
> braille in the 7th grade. Her CTVI chastised her for wanting to learn
> braille, so she became a closet braille reader. We fought the school
> district and she finally received braille instruction her senior year of
> high school. Since she learned braille at an older age, her braille reading
> speed will probably never be equal to her peers, but now she has the
> opportunity to read for "pleasure"!
> I hope I have given you some things to think about. I only wish someone had
> given me the wisdom and foresight into what would best benefit my child in
> the long run.
> Thank you,
> Kim Cunningham
> 2. One Young Low Vision Adult’s Perspective:
> I agree with Darci! I LOVE reading now. It wasn't always like this though
> as I was a low vision child struggling with normal sized print because
> nobody would give me large print (most of the time).  But when I was in 7th
> grade (1996-1997 school year), I taught myself Braille because none of my
> teachers thought I needed it (had 20/80 2/60 vision at 7inches from my nose,
> my eyes don't and never have worked together)!  That changed in 2 years in
> 9th grade when I had a major decrease in vision to 20/200 to 20/120. So, I
> am very glad I learned Braille even though I had to teach myself!
> T. J.
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