Literacy and Prebraille Skills
- Advice for Parents and Families
- Behavior Issues Affecting Children with Visual Impairments or Blindness
- Cognitive Development
- Daily Living Skills
- Early Childhood Services
- Language and Communication
- Orientation and Mobility
- Preschool Classroom
- Social Skills
- Touch and Movement
- Toys and Play
- Young Children with Additional Disabilities
for Children with Visual Impairments or Blindness
Literacy at its simplest means the ability to read and write, but it starts with comprehension and encompasses many media and formats, including listening, speaking, and object communication. Most children aim for basic or academic literacy, which is the ability to use reading as a tool to gain more knowledge. Others will strive to attain functional literacy, which supports the activities of daily life. This section offers an introduction to the forms of literacy for children who are blind and visually impaired, ranging from tactile symbols and calendar boxes to print and braille.
Below is a list of topics you'll find in this section. Click on a title to jump to a specific topic.
In this section parents can learn how to foster literacy in children of all ages. Topics include the importance of early literacy preparation, how children learn to read, suggestions for games and activities, and instructions for making tactile books.
Helping Your Baby Learn about Reading and Writing, Family Connect for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments
Parents learn the importance of exposing children with visual impairments to literacy skills from a very early age; includes activities to enjoy together.
Activities to Promote Early Literacy, American Foundation for the Blind
These activities integrate literacy into a preschooler's play, storytime, and daily activities.
Perkins Panda Literacy Kit, Perkins School for the Blind
The Perkins Panda materials "teach fundamental early literacy skills to children and help parents be more involved in their child's development." This site includes information about early literacy, the importance of experiences in developing literacy skills, and the Perkins Panda.
Braille Resources for Parents, American Foundation for the Blind
AFB's article offers specific strategies to help preschool children develop essential literacy skills.
Promoting Your Child's Development of Reading and Writing Skills, Family Connect for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments
The author offers ideas parents can use to foster a love of reading and writing in preschool-age children with visual impairments.
Reading and Making Tactile Books with Your Child, Family Connect for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments
AFB's Family Connect shares tips on choosing books to read with small children, adding tactile drawings and braille to a book, and making story bags or story boxes.
Reading Comes Naturally: A Mother and Her Blind Child's Experiences, American Foundation for the Blind
Diane Miller shares how she helped her daughter develop literacy skills. She describes the importance of bridging concepts, her search for braille books, homemade books, and how she created a literate environment.
Emergent literacy refers to the cognitive knowledge children gather about language, reading, and writing before they learn to read. This knowledge is the foundation for success in literacy later in the educational process. (Note the difference from prebraille skills, which are physical and tactile.) For children with visual impairments, emergent literacy must include tactile experiences integrated with verbal language. Teachers will find many resources for fostering emergent literacy, including creating tactile books, story boxes, and language experience stories.
Creating Tactile Books, American Foundation for the Blind
This article offers guidelines and good topics for stimulating books for parents to make with their children.
Making a Fabric Tactile Book, ClearVision
These guidelines outline each step in making a fabric tactile book, from selecting a theme to gathering materials and putting it all together. (Microsoft Word Document)
Telling Stories through Touch: Communicating Tactile Story Ideas to Young Visually Impaired Children, RNIB - National Centre for Tactile Diagrams - Tactile Book Advancement Group
This booklet offers suggestions for making tactile books for young children with visual impairments. (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
This organization offers advice and information on the design and creation of tactile books, including guidelines for commercial publishers for small changes that will make their products more accessible to children with visual impairments.
Research: Emergent Literacy
Literacy in Early Intervention for Children with Visual Impairments: Insights from Individual Cases, Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness
"A qualitative case study" that provides "practical insights into the role of the early interventionist in supporting early literacy development." (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
Emergent Literacy: A New Perspective
J.M. Stratton "explores the fit between emergent literacy and the learning needs of children who are blind or visually impaired"; includes literature overview.
See also Emergent Literacy
Prebraille skills are physical and sensory: tactile perception, fine motor skills, particularly finger and hand movements, and ability to identify braille characters. (Note the difference from emergent literacy skills, which are cognitive). This section offers advice and activities for developing these critical tactile and motor skills.
Braille Rap Song, American Printing House for the Blind
Young learners will enjoy memorizing the braille alphabet with this rap song, with a unique dance-like gesture to accompany each letter; features an audio recording of the song, and the complete lyrics.
Emergent Literacy Skills for Future Braille Readers, Early Intervention Training Center for Infants and Toddlers with Visual Impairments
Motor and cognitive skills essential to literacy are presented in a grid that shows how they interrelate and support a child's development. (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
Enhancing Emergent Literacy Skills in Inclusive Preschools for Young Children with Visual Impairment, Young Exceptional Children
Janice Day, Andrea McDonnell, and Lora Heathfield discuss ways to enhance literacy skills in inclusive preschool settings by incorporating braille and large print into the classroom; media, materials, and equipment; curriculum modifications, and more. (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
Pre-Braille Experiences for Infants and Toddlers, Future Reflections, National Federation of the Blind
Terry Connolly discusses a variety of pre-braille experiences, including number concepts and patterns, motor skills, braille in everyday life, literature rich experiences, reading from left to right, and moving from the concrete to the abstract.
Expanding Understanding of Emergent Literacy: Empirical Support for a New Framework, Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness
Karen Erickson and Deborah Hatton test the applicability of a theory of emergent literacy to children with visual impairments. Proposed by Senechal et al., the framework seems to apply well, and the article concludes with a list of recommendations for teachers and parents. (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)
See also Pre-braille Skills
How Students Who Are Blind Read and Write, Family Connect for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments
This article introduces parents to braille, the tools used to read and write it, what to expect when their child goes to school, and the role of the Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI).
Research: Reinforcing Reading Skills
Literacy Begins at Home: Family Involvement in the Home Literacy Experiences for Children with Visual Impairments, Future Reflections - National Federation of the Blind
Christopher Craig presents his research on emergent literacy in the home and offers specific suggestions for parents to provide literacy experiences.
Organizations and Resources to Explore: Reinforcing Reading Skills
Dots for Families: Ongoing Literacy for Families of Children with Visual Impairments, Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and Blind
This web site is for family members, teachers, and "others interested in promoting literacy opportunities for young children with visual impairments." It includes a who's who and sections on braille writing, lessons, technology, fun and games, and stories.
Parents' Guide to the Development of Preschool Children with Disabilities: Resources and Services, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
Parents of preschool children with visual or physical disabilities will find a wide range of information to assist them in promoting their children's development from infancy to age five. The listing includes many producers of children's book in alternate formats.
See also Resources for Families