Friday, July 6, 2012

Letters of the Week - Learning Braille

For many blind children, learning Braille is tedious and hard work. It involves an overwhelming set of fine motor skills and sensory input at the tips of the fingers. Many Braille readers are older than their sighted peers when they finally learn the alphabet by touch. At this point it can be frustrating for the parent or teacher to be working on individual letters when the other students are already reading books.

I tend to get too excited about all of it and end up trying to teach Madilyn all the letters too quickly. It is baffling to know she can verbally spell most any word given to her, but mixes up the Braille letters "b" and "c" with "l" repeatedly. (She can also write all the letters on her Brailler.) So I've been working on giving her sets of letters to learn as a group. The first set we tried included "a,b,c,l,e" but as I just said, she mixes up "b" and "l" unless they are given together to distinguish between the two by choice. "Here are two letters. Which letter is b? Which one is l?"

This week I decided to remove "l" from the set and instead work on "a,b,c,e,k" as they are all quite different dot combinations, but all build off "a" or "dot 1". I have to help Madilyn keep her hand from shaking to properly track across line from left to right across the page. She is getting much better at this, but for now I'm helping her while we work on the letter recognition. She practices tracking as a separate activity each day, focusing on going slow and steady, with the right amount of pressure to feel all the dots and spaces on each line.

Click to watch the short 3 minute video of our fun, relaxed lesson on the couch this morning on Facebook! Be sure to "LIKE" us while you're there, too!

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