[blindkid] braille?

Kasondra Payne kassyp36 at msn.com
Wed Feb 25 05:10:01 UTC 2009


I am so glad you mentioned parents learning Braille as well as the blind child.  I am one of the few blind children in the 1980s who was taught Braille, on my parents insistance.  My mother learned only a few Braille letters, so she could recognize my name.  My father didn't learn Braille at all, but he could fix my brailler.  My sighted husband promised to learn Braille when we got married.  He got really pushed into it when our son Andrew was born.  He was blind, and Shawn realized that he needed to learn Braille in order to teach him.  He has learned uncontracted Braille, and he knows some contractions.  Nw that Andrew is in kindergarten, Shawn can practice as he reads what Andrew brings home from school--that is in addition to the many books we have around here.  He can also practice writing using either a slate or a brailler.  

I wished my parents had learned Braille, but I am thankful they were so supportive of me.  I am so glad my mother told the rest of the IEP team that I would learn Braille.  That was years before the amendments that Carrie mentioned.  I am also thankful that my husband Shawn shares my zeal for Braille, and he has worked to learn it himself.  

Kasondra Payne  

-----Original Message-----
From: Carrie Gilmer <carrie.gilmer at gmail.com>
Sent: Friday, February 20, 2009 7:33 AM
To: blindkid at nfbnet.org
Subject: Re: [blindkid] braille?

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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