[blindkid] braille?

Carrie Gilmer carrie.gilmer at gmail.com
Fri Feb 20 14:07:40 UTC 2009

Dear Marie,
Some direct answers to your questions:

Can someone please tell me if this is something that we need to discuss and
get started on now?

For any child who has low vision or blindness Braille must be considered and

Pre-reading and early literacy experiences are well known to be key to
proficiency and fluency in literacy throughout life. Age three is an
important age for all parents to think about reading and pre-reading

The questions is: Is it likely Braille provides the best chance for
literacy, either alone or in combination with print. (And let me add, not a
few of us are certain that the totally blind child needs to learn print as
well). The questions is also not so much Braille...what we are talking about
is READING. What provides the best access to normal reading potential, print
or Braille or both? If a child had limited or no access to standard size
print (needing all kinds of serious modifications or it takes more energy to
SEE the print than read it) there is an EQUAL and alternative option,
instead of reading with the eyes, the brain recognizes equally reading with
the fingers.  

Is the school obligated to provide someone to teach Braille? Yes. 

>From Federal law IDEA 2004; 
Part B Section 1414 
(3) Development of an IEP
(B) Consideration of special factors. The IEP team shall-
(iii) in the case of a child who is blind or visually impaired, provide for
instruction in Braille and the use of Braille unless the IEP team
determines, after an evaluation of the child's reading and writing skills,
needs, and appropriate reading and writing media (including an evaluation of
the child's future needs for instruction in Braille or the use of Braille),
that instruction in Braille or the use of Braille is not appropriate for the

Notice this law PRESUMES Braille,
We fought for this and got it in 1997. That is because of the problems with
print (future use includes as the print gets smaller the child can't keep up
and needs frequent breaks or can't see it any longer without serious
magnification) blankly given, or audio, led to at least one entire
generation of low vision/blind students failing to read either at all or
competitively and with pleasure. In 1963 57% of blind kids were given
Braille, in 1993 and until today only 10%. We knew the children did not
change, the system did, and not toward improvement. Congress agreed it was a

We are virtually littered with examples of people's lives limited seriously,
and seriously struggled through school with all that implies for the student
emotionally and every other way, because they can not read well, because
they were given print or audio as the only options.

We have not one story or testimony of someone who was damaged by learning

What issues are there that I need to be aware of regarding the learning of
#1 It is reading. It needs all the same things--to be in the child's
environment EVERYWHERE, with a positive attitude and good instruction and
regular use.
#2 Many myths and prejudices about it abound.
#3 mom and dad need to learn it too.

Hope this helps in addition,
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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