[blindkid] Full Dr. Ryles Study on Braille

Carrie Gilmer carrie.gilmer at gmail.com
Fri Feb 20 13:34:35 UTC 2009


Ruby Ryles

The Impact of Braille Reading Skills on Employment,
Income, Education, and Reading Habits
by Ruby Ryles Ph.D.

>From the Editor: As a society we have become increasingly alarmed in recent
years about the growing illiteracy rate among our children and young adults.
This increase is occurring, of course, at the very time in our nation's
economic life when the need for true literacy is increasing. Today's jobs
require much more skill and technical expertise than ever before, and
unskilled and manual-labor jobs are on the decline. In response to this
national crisis, literacy programs are springing up everywhere, and both
governmental and private-sector programs are being created and publicized.
Just about everyone agrees that increased literacy means increased
opportunity and a better chance for a real share in the American dream.

For blind people improved Braille literacy has been the focus. It has always
seemed self-evident that our chance for success and to share in the American
dream increases in direct proportion to our ability to read and write

However, while our common sense has told us that blind people must master
Braille to succeed, supposed common sense has also told many in the field of
special education that such skills are not important for the blind and that
tapes or computers or large print or magnification devices can be just as
effective as (or maybe even more effective than) reading and writing

Now we have a chance to take a look at this important question, not merely
applying common sense and using anecdotal experience, but examining
empirical data derived from an objective, professional study. The results
are not only interesting but enlightening and instructive. We can only hope
that an entirely new body of knowledge is emerging-data that once and for
all can settle the question of the critical need for Braille for all blind
people who cannot read print easily, rapidly, and steadily.

This study was conducted several years ago by Dr. Ruby Ryles, now head of
the Orientation and Mobility master's degree program at Louisiana Tech
University. This was her first major study examining the effectiveness of
Braille (since its completion she has done a much more extensive study of
Braille-literacy skills). The following article was peer-reviewed and
published in the May/June, 1996, issue of the Journal of Visual Impairment
and Blindness.

Dr. Ryles began her professional career as a first and second grade teacher
of sighted children. She specialized in reading and taught sighted children
for nine years.

Then her son Dan was born blind. In order to help Dan more effectively, Dr.
Ryles returned to school to specialize in the education of blind children.
Armed with these new credentials and her practical experience as the mother
of a blind child, she worked for a number of years teaching blind children
in Arkansas, Alaska, and Washington State.

Because of her personal experience as a mother and teacher and her
increasing understanding of the problems faced by blind adults, Dr. Ryles
began to recognize the need for a new kind of training and preparation for
teachers of the blind. She recognized the need for teacher training dealing
with attitudes about blindness and stressing the need for Braille literacy.
She began to understand that this very specific teacher training must occur
if blind children are to have the chance to develop into confident,
competent, and successful blind adults. Therefore, she enrolled in a
doctoral program in special education at the University of Washington.

While she was working on her doctorate, Dr. Ryles conducted her first major
study of Braille versus print for partially blind people. She did not
consider the reason or reasons for the drastic decline in the use of Braille
in America. Rather she was interested in obtaining objective information
about the effectiveness of Braille: specifically, were economic and other
benefits a predictable and measurable outcome when people had been taught
and were using Braille?

In order to qualify for the study, candidates had to be congenitally legally
blind, be between the ages of eighteen and fifty-five, and have no other
disabilities. Of the seventy-four adults in the group, forty-three subjects
had learned Braille as their "original, primary medium," and thirty-one had
learned to read using print. This study begins to provide the objective
information we need on the question of Braille versus print. The study
reveals that those who were taught Braille from the beginning had higher
employment rates, were better educated and more financially self-sufficient,
and spent more time doing pleasure and other reading than the print users.

The pertinent parts of the study as reported in the Journal of Visual
Impairment and Blindness follow:

The decline in the number of Braille readers since 1963 (American Printing
House for the Blind, 1991) has been widely discussed by professionals and
censured by consumer groups (Rex, 1989; Schroeder, 1989; Stephens, 1989).
Although there is no consensus on the causes of this decline, a number of
factors have been cited. Among them are the rise in the number of visually
impaired children with additional disabilities who are nonreaders (Rex,
1989), disputes on the utility of the Braille code (Thurlow, 1988), the
decline in teachers' knowledge of Braille and methods for teaching it
(Schroeder, 1989; Stephens, 1989), negative attitudes toward Braille
(Holbrook & Koenig, 1992; Rex, 1989), and the greater reliance on speech
output and print-magnification technology (Paul, 1993).

Pressure from consumers and advocacy groups has led twenty-seven [now
twenty-nine] states to pass legislation mandating that children who are
legally blind be given the opportunity to learn Braille. These laws have
created further controversy in the field (Rex, 1992; Schroeder, 1992;
Virginia State Department, 1991). Whereas professional groups such as the
Council of Executives of American Schools for the Visually Handicapped, have
called for a renewed emphasis on teaching Braille (Mullen, 1990), others
have stressed that Braille is only one educational option (Paul, 1993).

The majority of literature in the field regarding Braille reading is in the
form of qualitative studies and position papers. Without the balance of
quantifiable data, how can any position on the use of Braille be rationally
supported or refuted? How can teachers determine when to teach Braille and
to whom or consider more basic questions: Should the field continue to
emphasize Braille? Do the outcomes of early Braille training justify the
educational resources required to provide it? Can training in Braille
reading be linked to measures of the economic success of adults?

A causal relationship between reading medium alone (either Braille or print)
and the economic success of adults is difficult to establish. However, the
possible effects of a particular reading medium on the lives of visually
impaired children and adults warrant more objective and quantifiable
research than has been conducted so far. The aim of the study presented
here, which was part of a larger study of the reading habits and employment
of legally blind adults, was to add to the knowledge in these areas.

Most disciplines accept that the primary indicators of socioeconomic status
in this society are employment and education. Therefore, if higher
education, employment, and financial self-sufficiency are considered
indicators of success in adult life, the following research questions become

1. What impact does early Braille training have on the employment rates of
visually impaired adults?

2. Does the skill of early Braille reading influence the reading habits of
visually impaired adults?

3. Do visually impaired adults who learned to read Braille as their original
reading medium have higher rates of economic independence?


A search of the literature revealed few longitudinal studies that measured
or defined the success of educational decision makers in determining reading
media for visually impaired children. For obvious reasons an experimental
design was considered inappropriate for the study. Therefore, because the
author was interested in obtaining quantifiable data, she chose a
structured-interview design with a variety of open-ended, multiple choice
free-answers, and dichotomous questions. She then conducted telephone
interviews with adults who fit the criteria for inclusion. To assess
interrater reliability, random subjects were informed that a third party
would quietly listen in on the interviews and record answers on a scoring

Identification of subjects: The Washington State Library for the Blind and
Physically Handicapped (WSLBPH) identified adults on this registration list
who met the following criteria: they were legally blind, aged eighteen to
fifty-five, and had no concomitant disabilities; fifty-five was chosen as
the cutoff point to avoid the confounding effect of unemployment because of
retirement or ill health in old age. Although the majority of adults in the
state who are legally blind are registered with WSLBPH, the fact that the
study was restricted to eligible adult patrons of the library who resided in
Washington is a limitation of the study. (WSLBPH also serves some persons
who live outside the state, but they were not included in the study.)

For the larger study WSLBPH mailed a packet to 900 identified people that
included a letter explaining the study and a return postcard. The potential
subjects were asked to return the postcard indicating their willingness to
participate and to include their telephone numbers and convenient times for
them to be interviewed. Twenty-three packets were returned unopened because
of incorrect addresses, and 303 response cards granting permission to be
interviewed for the larger study were received. To protect the potential
subjects' anonymity, the response cards did not include identifying
information, such as names and addresses. Thus it was not possible to do
follow-up mailings to track non-respondents.

During the actual interview process fifty-one potential subjects who could
not be contacted on the first try were called four or five times during the
eight-week project before they were considered ineligible. Another
seventy-seven were eliminated when they were called because they did not
meet the criteria for inclusion but had not been ruled out during the
initial screening. Most of those who were eliminated had concomitant
disabilities (deaf-blindness or cerebral palsy); in addition, several were
above the age ceiling of fifty-five, and one was under eighteen. From the
pool of the remaining 175 subjects, a subgroup of seventy-four persons was
identified who met all the criteria and were congenitally visually impaired.
These seventy-four persons were the subjects of the smaller study reported

Interviews: The majority of the telephone interviews were conducted in the
evenings, according to the subjects' preferences, and lasted an average of
fifteen to twenty minutes. Numbers were assigned to the subjects, and the
original phone numbers were not entered with the data.

During the interviews the subjects were asked thirty-five to forty
questions. These questions were designed to elicit their visual history;
current visual status; preference for and perceptions of past and present
reading media (Braille or print; listening to audiotaped books was not
included); educational background; and current employment, income,
occupation, and reading habits.

The subjects' responses were categorized, coded, and analyzed using
descriptive statistics (chi-square). To measure the accuracy of the scores
and categories of responses, a second scorer simultaneously listened to the
interviews and scored and categorized a randomly selected sample of eight
subjects. The interrater agreement for the sample was 96 percent.

Subjects: All seventy-four subjects were congenitally legally blind at the
time of the interviews, having been diagnosed as legally blind before age
two, and therefore had no memory of normal vision. Of the seventy-four,
forty-two were women and thirty-two were men, who lived in rural and urban
areas. As was mentioned earlier, the subjects ranged in age from eighteen to
fifty-five; seven (9 percent) were eighteen to twenty-four, twelve (16
percent) were twenty-five to thirty, eight (11 percent) were thirty-one to
thirty-six, thirty-two (43 percent) were thirty-seven to forty-two, nine (12
percent) were forty-three to forty-eight, and six (8 percent) were
forty-nine to fifty-five.

Thirty-one subjects were employed, six part-time and twenty-five full-time,
and forty-three were unemployed, yielding an unemployment rate of 58
percent. (The unemployment rate for the 175 in the larger study was 66
percent, which parallels the national unemployment rate for visually
impaired adults reported by Kirchner & Peterson, 1988). The subjects' annual
personal incomes ranged from less than $7,000 to $70,000; the majority
(thirty-nine, or 53 percent) reported annual incomes of less than $7,000.

The majority of the subjects (forty-two, or 57 percent) reported current
vision levels of no light perception or light perception only (nineteen men
and twenty-three women). In addition, twenty-two (29 percent) had vision
levels between 20/300 and shadow vision, and the vision of the remaining ten
(14 percent) ranged from 20/200 to 20/300. Eleven subjects said that their
visual acuity had deteriorated before they graduated from high school, and
eighteen said that it had deteriorated afterward; three reported improved
visual activity during their school years.

With regard to educational levels, ten subjects (14 percent) had a high
school education or less, twenty-three (31 percent) had attended college but
had not graduated, twenty-four (32 percent) had bachelor's degrees, and
seventeen (23 percent) had graduate degrees. The women tended to be slightly
better educated than the men; twelve (12 percent) of the forty-two women,
compared to six (19 percent) of the thirty-two men, had graduate degrees.

With regard to reading media, forty-three subjects (58 percent) had learned
to read Braille as their original primary medium (hereafter referred to as
the BR group), and thirty-one subjects (42 percent) had learned to read
print as their original primary medium (hereafter referred to as the PR
group) in childhood. One of the subjects who had initially learned to read
Braille uses both Braille and print as an adult.


Employment: As figure 1 shows, the BR group had a significantly lower
unemployment rate (44 percent) than did the PR group (77 percent)
(X2=10.499; p<.0148). Of those who were employed, 16 percent of the BR group
and 13 percent of the PR group were in professional positions, 23 percent of
the BR group and 10 percent of the PR group were in skilled positions, and
16 percent of the BR group,but none of the PR group, were in unskilled
positions. Furthermore, 42 percent of the BR group versus 23 percent of the
PR group were employed full-time (forty or more hours per week), and 14
percent of the BR group, but 3 percent of the PR group, were employed part
time (X2=7.031 p<.0297).

Graphic shows two bar graphs
FIGURE 1: Employment breakdown by original readium medium.

NOTE: Figure 1 represents visually the data reported in the text.

The extent of Braille use in adulthood was an important variable in
examining the employment rates of the BR group. Using qualifying criteria
for each category, the author determined Braille use to be extensive, some,
or minimal. Extensive Braille use did not guarantee employment, but within
the BR group it was apparent that the subjects who reported extensive
personal and/or professional use of Braille had a far lower unemployment
rate (33 percent) than did the total sample (58 percent). Of the twenty-four
subjects in the BR group who were employed at the time of the study,
twenty-two met the criteria for extensive Braille users.

Five subjects in the PR group were taught to read Braille after they learned
to read print. None reported using Braille extensively, and all were
unemployed at the time of the study.

Reading Habits: Addressing reading in this type of research design is
problematic, particularly because the study was based on self-reported data.
Therefore, three symbols of literacy in this society were examined: the
number of hours per week spent reading (Braille or print), the number of
books read in an average year, and the number of magazines currently
subscribed to. Figure 2 compares the number of hours in an average week that
the BR and PR subjects spent reading (for their jobs and for pleasure). It
is significant that sixteen subjects in the BR group and five in the PR
group read more than twenty-one hours per week (X2=13.852: p<.0166), whereas
three in the BR group versus nine in the PR group read one hour or none
during an average week.

graphic of bar graphs
FIGURE 2: Number of hours a week spent reading.

NOTE: Figure 2 represents the number of hours spent reading each week--0 to
1 hours, Braille readers 3, print readers 9; 2 to 5 hours a week, Braille
readers 4, print readers 9; 6 to 10 hours a week, Braille readers 9, print
readers 4; 11 to 20 hours a week, Braille readers 10, print readers 4; and
21 or more hours a week, Braille readers 16, print readers 5.

As Figure 3 shows, the BR group read significantly more books per year than
did the PR group (X2=23.138:p<.0008). Thirteen of the forty-three BR
subjects but only three of the thirty-one PR subjects read twenty-one or
more books per year, and three BR subjects versus fourteen PR subjects read
no books per year. These findings are consistent with the greater number of
hours per week that the BR group spent reading. Furthermore, in accord with
the greater amount of time spent reading and books read, the BR group
reported subscribing to significantly more magazines than did the PR group
(X2=13.435: p<.0038). For example, eight BR subjects but eighteen PR
subjects subscribed to no magazines (see Figure 4).

NOTE: Figure 3 represents the number of books read per year-zero books a
year, 3 Braille readers, 14 print readers; 1 to 5 books a year, 16 Braille
readers, 5 print readers; 6 to 10 books a year, 4 Braille readers, 7 print
readers; 11 to 20 books a year, 7 Braille readers, 2 print readers; and 21
and over books a year, 6 Braille readers, 3 print readers.

Figure 4 represents magazine subscriptions at the time of the study-zero
subscriptions, 8 Braille readers, 18 print readers; 1 to 3 subscriptions, 19
Braille readers, 7 print readers; 4 to 6 subscriptions, 9 Braille readers, 5
print readers; over 7 subscriptions, 7 Braille readers, 1 print reader.

graphic of bar graphs
FIGURE 3: Number of books read per year.

graphic of bar graphs
FIGURE 4: Magazine subscriptions at the time of the study.

Table 1 depicts the point basis for a scale on which each subject was
assigned points based on values of the three variables previously discussed.

Graphic of Table 1: Basis for scale.

Table 1: Basis for Scale.

NOTE: The table represents points awarded for hours a week spent reading,
books a year read, and magazine subscriptions. Hours spent reading a week: 0
points for 0 to 1 hour, 1 point for 2 to 6 hours a week; 2 points for 7 to
20 hours a week; 3 points for 20 or more hours a week. Number of books read
a year: 0 points for 0 to 1 book read; 1 point for 1 to 5 books read; 2
points for 6 to 20 books read; and 3 points for 20 or more books read.
Number of magazines subscribed to: 0 points for none; 1 point for 1 to 3
magazines; 2 points for 4 to 7 magazines; and 3 points for 7 or more

The total points attained by the subjects were plotted on a 10-point scale,
and the subjects were divided into four groups. The subjects in Group 1
scored 0 or 1 point; those in Group 2 scored 2, 3, or 4 points; those in
Group 3 scored 5, 6, or 7 points; and those in Group 4 scored 8 or 9 points.
For example, a subject who read twelve hours in an average week, read four
books in the previous year, and currently subscribed to six magazines would
receive a total of five points and hence would be placed in Group 3.

Thirty-six percent of the PR subjects and four percent of the BR subjects
were in Group 1, 35 percent of the PR subjects and 33 percent of the BR
subjects were in Group 2, 26 percent of the PR subjects and 47 percent of
the BR subjects were in Group 3, and 3 percent of the PR subjects and 16
percent of the BR subjects were in Group 4. The results were significant
(X2=14.674: p<.0021), the most noticeable difference being in Group 1.

Education: The overall difference in the mean educational levels of the BR
and the PR groups was small and not statistically significant (X2=4.035;
p<.2577). The distinction between early Braille readers and early print
readers was at the highest level of education: Thirteen (30%) of the 43 BR
subjects but only four (13%) of the thirty-one PR subjects obtained graduate
degrees. It is also worth noting that only two of the subjects in this
sample (n=74) and in the larger sample (n=175) had doctoral degrees; both
were in the BR group.

Self-Sufficiency: Although the overall income levels of the two groups were
not statistically significant (X2=7.059, p<.2163), the representation of the
BR and PR subjects in the three income ranges-highest range ($25,000 to
$70,000), middle range ($7,000 to $25,000), and lowest range ($7,000 or
less)--are of interest. The BR group was over-represented in the highest
range, and the PR group was over-represented in the lowest range, but both
groups were similarly represented in the middle range. Thus 25 percent of
the BR group versus 7 percent of the PR group were in the highest range, 28
percent of the BR group and 31 percent of the PR group were in the middle
range, and 47 percent of the BR group but 62 percent of the PR group were in
the lowest range. In addition, the subjects' responses to the question, "Do
you receive money on a regular basis from a nonemployment source, such as
SSI (Supplemental Security Income), SSDI (Social Security Disability
Insurance), public assistance, food stamps, or Medicaid?" were significant
(X2=4.805; p<.0284): 49 percent of the BR group, compared to 74 percent of
the PR group, regularly received such public entitlement benefits.

Past and Present Reading Ability: In any study self-reported data,
especially retrospective data, must generally be considered suspect.
Nevertheless, the subjects' responses to questions regarding their
perceptions of their past and present reading ability tended to follow the
other trends reported here:

1. As a junior high school student could you read as fast and as fluently as
your classmates? Nine of the thirty-one subjects in the PR group, compared
to thirty-five of the forty-three subjects in the BR group answered yes.

2. Do you consider yourself a good reader today? Nineteen of the thirty-one
subjects in the PR group versus forty of the forty-three subjects in the BR
group answered yes.

Visual Acuity: Of the seventy-four subjects, fourteen

reported having had 20/200 visual acuity since birth that had remained
stable throughout their adult lives. This level of acuity is the upper limit
of the definition of legal blindness. Thirteen of these fourteen subjects
learned to read print and were included in the PR group; seven of the
fourteen subjects received Braille instruction later in life but used print
as their current primary reading medium. Four of the fourteen subjects were
employed. Although most subjects in the PR group reported little knowledge
of the Braille code, the four employed subjects in this group all reported
knowing "some" Braille.

The only one of the fourteen who was taught to read Braille as a child said
that she reads both print and Braille as an adult but uses print as her
primary reading medium. She was one of the four who were employed in this
group. Since this group contained thirteen PR subjects and only one BR
subject, quantitative analysis of the data was not possible.

Instruction in Braille reading has traditionally been reserved for students
with the most severe vision loss-those who cannot see print. It is typically
assumed by the general public that the greater the amount of vision a child
or adult has, the greater his or her advantage in employment and education.
The findings of this study did not support that supposition: acuity was not
a statistically significant factor in the employment or educational levels
the subjects attained. However, the recipients of public entitlement
programs were exceptions to these findings. Those with partial sight were
represented in significantly greater proportions than were those with little
or no sight (X2=6.045; p<.045). (This finding also held true for its
subjects in the larger study [X2=7.648: p<.0218].)

Contrary to common perceptions, more sight was not synonymous with a lower
unemployment rate and financial independence in this study. The subjects who
reported the least vision-light perception only or no light perception-had
an unemployment rate of 52 percent, whereas those with the greatest degree
of vision--20/200--20/300--had an unemployment rate of 67 percent.


It is an effort of gargantuan proportions to attempt to isolate the impact
of a reading medium on the life of an adult who is visually impaired. The
interaction of a multitude of confounding variables (such as mobility,
financial disincentives, and social biases) complicates and confuses
attempts to study employment rates and measures of literacy or financial

The legally blind adult subjects were chosen and screened to provide as
representative a sample as possible of otherwise non-disabled visually
impaired adults in the state of Washington. However, because questions of
home support, motivation, intellectual ability, educational placement, and
the like were not addressed, it is possible that an analysis that would
include these variables would also yield significant results. Nevertheless,
it is rational to expect that the diverse values of these independent
variables existed in both the BR and the PR groups and thus should not have
significantly altered the findings. However, these issues and their impact
on the concerns addressed here should be the focus of future studies in the

It is sometimes confusing and always disturbing to read the staggering
unemployment rates of adults with visual impairments. The implications for
the future of today's generation of children with visual impairments are
sobering for professionals in the field. Rather than focusing on the
seemingly overwhelming task of determining why so many adults with visual
impairments are unemployed, this study concentrated on one possible common
factor of the 33 percent who are employed.

The impact of Braille reading skills on the subjects' employment rates was
significant-with qualifications. Having a knowledge of Braille, even as a
primary reading medium, did not increase a subject's chances of employment,
but those who had learned to read Braille as their original reading medium
and used it extensively were employed at a significantly higher rate. Thus
the early acquisition and extensive use of Braille reading skills were the
two factors that had a strong impact on employment rates. The subjects who
had been taught to read Braille as children were employed (either full time
or part time) at more than twice the rate of those who were taught to read
print. However, the subjects who learned Braille after they learned to read
print did not have a higher employment rate than those who had not learned

In this society the ability to read well is highly valued. It is an ability
to which school districts devote copious amounts of funds and resources.
Classroom teachers spend countless hours coaxing children to develop the
lifelong habit of reading. In this study the BR subjects demonstrated those
positive reading habits at a significantly greater rate than did the PR
subjects. They spent substantially more time reading, read more books, and
subscribed to more magazines. This finding is particularly noteworthy when
one considers the comparative availability of print and Braille materials.
Because higher education depends to a great extent on a background of
reading skills and habits, it is not surprising that the BR group also had
more graduate degrees.

Not only were the BR subjects more prolific readers, but they perceived
their reading abilities, both as children and as adults, in a more positive
light than did the PR subjects. Whether those who were taught to read
Braille were actually more fluent, skilled readers as children than were
those who were taught to read print is an issue for further study. The point
of interest here is that the overwhelming majority of the BR subjects (81%)
had elevated perceptions of their abilities compared to only 29 percent of
the PR subjects.

Rehabilitation is also affected by the inability of visually impaired
children to read. Excessive rehabilitation dollars are spent annually on
visually impaired young adults who are recent graduates of public (and
residential) school programs for visually impaired children. Rehabilitation
programs that were originally designed to retrain adventitiously blind
adults designate a large portion of their annual budgets to congenitally
visually impaired adults who, in theory, should have been habilitated in
childhood education programs. But in reality many visually impaired young
adults are not sufficiently accomplished in literacy or alternative skills
to complete higher-level degrees or obtain employment.

As Koenig and Holbrook (1989) noted, the 10-15 percent of visually impaired
children who are totally blind should present little concern to educators
regarding whether they should be taught to read Braille since those children
who are cognitively and physically capable of reading will be taught to read
Braille. It is the remaining 85 percent of visually impaired children with
various degrees of residual vision who present the print-or-Braille dilemma
to their multi-disciplinary teams. The results of this study suggest that
teaching Braille as an original primary reading medium to children with
visual impairments may encourage them to develop the positive lifelong habit
of reading as adults, enhance their later employment opportunities, and
thereby increase the possibility of financial independence.


As the field of education moves toward the full inclusion of students with
disabilities in regular school programs, it is imperative that vision
professionals resist the urge to normalize visually impaired children by
insisting that they read only print. All too frequently decisions on reading
media are based on available resources, rather than on the needs of
students. According to Tuttle and Heinze (cited in Caton, 1991), over 1,400
additional certified teachers are needed nationwide to meet the educational
needs of unserved and under-served children with visual impairments.
Teachers of children with visual impairments are typically expected to teach
sixteen or more students who are widely spread over large geographic areas
(Caton, 1991). Given such conditions, dedicated itinerant teachers are
frequently forced to assume consulting rather than active teaching roles.
Children cannot adequately be taught to read (in print or Braille) by

It is tragic that school districts (and professionals) may opt to recommend
print as a reading medium under such circumstances. This article does not
address that critical shortage. However, it should be noted here that in the
face of the restructuring of many university teacher-training programs, it
is imperative to retain and support the growth of categorical teacher
training programs in the field. The shortage of qualified teachers, as well
as researchers, has contributed heavily to the problems the field now faces.
Without qualified teachers alternative skills, such as Braille, which are
specific to individuals with visual impairments, will by necessity be taught
so infrequently that they will eventually become all but extinct. If the
results of this study are an indicator, omitting Braille reading instruction
from the curriculum of visually impaired children may well create a handicap
far more debilitating than blindness-chronic unemployment.


American Printing House for the Blind. (1991).

Distribution of federal quota based on the registration of eligible
students. Louisville, Kentucky: Author.

Caton, H. (Ed.) (1991). Print and Braille literacy: Selecting appropriate
learning media. Louisville, Kentucky: American Printing House for the Blind.

Koenig, A.J. & Holbrook, M.C. (1989). Determining the reading medium for
students with visual impairments: A diagnostic teaching approach. Journal of
Visual Impairment & Blindness, 83, 296-302.

Koenig, A.J. & Holbrook, M.C. (1992). Teaching Braille reading to students
with low vision. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness. 86, 44-48.

Kirchner, C. & Peterson, R. (1988), Employment: Selected characteristics. In
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Mullen, E. (1990), Decreased Braille literacy: A symptom of a system in need
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Paul, B.J. (1993, Spring), "Low tech" Braille vital to high-level literacy.
Counterpoint, p. 3.

Rex, E.J. (1989), Issues related to literacy of legally blind learners,
Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 83, 306-313.

Schroeder, F. (1989), Literacy: The key to opportunity, Journal of Visual
Impairment & Blindness, 83, 290-293.

Schroeder, F. (1992, June), Braille bills: What Are They and What Do They
Mean? Braille Monitor, 308-311.

Stephens, O. (1989), Braille-Implications for living, Journal of Visual
Impairment & Blindness. 83, 288-289.

Thurlow, W.R. (1988), An alternative to Braille, Journal of Visual
Impairment & Blindness, 82, 378.

Virginia State Department for the Visually Handicapped, (1991), A Study of
Braille literacy in Virginia's public schools (Senate Document No. 31),
Richmond: Virginia State Department for the Visually Handicapped.

Reprinted with permission from the Journal of Visual Impairment and
Blindness. Copyright 1996 by American Foundation for the Blind, 11 Penn
Plaza, Suite 300, New York, New York 10001. All rights reserved.





Carrie Gilmer, President

National Organization of Parents of Blind Children

A Division of the National Federation of the Blind

NFB National Center: 410-659-9314

Home Phone: 763-784-8590

carrie.gilmer at gmail.com



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