LITERACY: ISSUES FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE BLIND, PARENTS AND PROFESSIONALS

Sarah J. Blake

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The Importance of Braille Literacy
Emergent Literacy and the Young Blind Child
Teaching Reading in Braille
Slate and Stylus Are Not Dirty Words
Where to Find Braille Books for Children
Is Braille a Language?
The Experience of Hebrew Study as a Student Who is Blind

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Sarah Blake has lived with blindness/visual impairment due to premature birth since childhood. She has had several surgeries to treat complications such as detached retina, cataracts, glaucoma, and cornea damage which threatened her small amount of vision at various points in her life. She learned both braille and print as a young child. She travels with a dog guide.

Sarah graduated from Anderson University School of theology in 2009 with a Master of Divinity. She is a licensed minister with the Church of God (Anderson, IN) and travels as a guest speaker and singer to churches, colleges, and other community groups. She also works with companies to increase features of software to enable blind students to access foreign language materials.

Sarah serves on the health care issues committee affiliated with the American Council of the Blind, which promotes access to health information and equipment. She also serves as co-moderator for several online discussion groups, including BVI-Parents, a group for parents of blind and visually impaired children.

The articles listed on this page provide information about issues concerning literacy for people who are blind. Some provide theoretical discussions; others present the results of research; still others provide information about teaching methods. Articles with an asterisk (*) beside them are hosted on this site.

Topics

The Importance of Braille Literacy

* The Importance of Braille Literacy
This article introduces some issues related to braille literacy and its importance.

The Braille Literacy Crisis for Children
This article discusses proposed reasons given for blind children not learning Braille.

Comprehensive Literacy
Phil Hatlen discusses the traditional definition of literacy, positions on the importance of using recorded materials held by teachers of the visually impaired, and the necessity of skill in using a variety of methods to gather information.

Illiteracy and Low Literacy in the United States
Visually impaired readers may be overrepresented in statistics on illiteracy and low literacy. Read this article to find out why.

Is Listening Reading
Dean Tuttle discusses reasons for his conclusion that listening can be an effective mode of reading.

Literacy: The Key to Opportunity
Fred Schroeder discusses the importance of Braille literacy.

Perceptions of Braille Usage by Legally Blind Adults
Fred Schroeder discusses a study of Braille usage by eight blind adults and their attitudes about its importance and effect on the lives of blind people. This is a very small sample, but the study is a step in the right direction.

Weaving the Cloth of Literacy: The Relationship Between Braille and Reading
In this article, Braille is explained as a tool which helps to combine prior knowledge with new information.

The World at My Fingertips
This book contains several essays on the importance of learning Braille.

* Bibliography on Braille Literacy
This is a listing of selected books and articles about braille literacy, some of which may be read online.

Braille for Students with Low Vision

* The Great Debate
Braille bills are designed to support the rights of visually impaired students to learn Braille and to ensure that textbooks are available in Braille. How effective are they, and what factors are involved in making decisions about whether students with low vision should learn Braille?

Your Child's Right to Read
In this article, Carol Castellano presents a discussion of why Braille instruction is resisted and how decisions should be made about whether a child should learn Braille, emphasizing the impact of Braille bills which have been passed in several states.

Early Literacy- Braille and the Young Child
This article provides scenarios which demonstrate how decisions can be made about whether a child is a tactual or visual learner. Suggestions are also provided for early literacy activities.

Emergent Literacy

* Emergent Literacy and the Young Blind Child
This article discusses the development of emergent literacy and provides some suggestions for parents and teachers.

Emergent Literacy: A New Perspective
J. M. Stratton discusses the concept of emergent literacy and what it means for blind children.

Reading Comes Naturally: A Mother and Her Blind Child's Experiences
Diane Miller offers suggestions for sharing reading experiences with young blind children based on her experiences with her daughter.

Teaching Methods and Resources

* The Slate and Stylus Information Center
This is your one-stop source of information about using and teaching the slate and stylus.

* Teaching Reading in Braille
This article provides an introduction to teaching methods and issues of concern when selecting the method to use with a particular student.

Beginning Braille: A Whole Language-Based Strategy
This article introduces the concept of whole language and discusses ways in which it can be adapted and used with young Braille readers.

The Braille Readiness Skills Grid: Providing a Foundation for Literacy
The Braille Readiness Skills Grid is a system for keeping track of students' learning and for planning for future instruction. This article provides an explanation of how it can be used.

A Primary Reading Program for Beginning Braille Readers
This is the text of a 1979 article written by Hilda Caton which was published in the Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness. The article discusses selecting appropriate vocabulary and teaching methods.

A Review of Textbooks to Teach Braille to Blind Adults
This article discusses the method and results of a review of 19 textbooks for teaching Braille to blind adults.

Miscellaneous Articles and Resources

* Where to Find Children's Books in Braille
Missy Garber provides contact information and descriptions of several producers of children's books in braille.

How Much Space Does Grade 2 Braille Really Save
This article discusses the effect of several factors on the space-saving ability of Grade 2 Braille and factors affecting the validity of previous studies.

Library of Congress Certification Programs
The Library of Congress homepage provides information regarding certification in Braille proofreading and transcribing as well as assessment of Braille competency for professionals who work with blind people.

Reading Rates of Young Blind Children
Diane Wormsley discusses the results of her study on hand movement and reading rates of 22 blind children ages 6-12.

Tactile Acuity, Aging, and Braille Reading in Long-Term Blindness
Age-related decreases in the sensitivity of the fingertips may have an effect on Braille reading.

Teachers' Voices: Comments on Braille and Literacy from the Field
This is a report on a study of the attitudes of teachers of students who are blind and visually impaired about Braille. This report is unique in that it includes actual quotations from respondents.

American Braille Basics
David Holladay and Jesse Kaysen explain the braille system and provide some basic information about formatting. This is a good page to read before transcribing a document.