Sharing braille with sighted classmates: a step-by-step guide

Student and teacher using brailler.

A student and teacher use a brailler.

July 9, 2014

As the parent of a child who is blind, I feel that it's important that my daughter is comfortable and proud of herself. It is key that she develops the skills to talk about her blindness and share the tools she uses with others. It will help her develop self-advocacy skills and build her self confidence.

I always let her make the decision on what and how she shares with others. We both really like opportunities where she can demonstrate how much fun Braille is.

Abby is 10 years old and attends a mainstream 4th grade public school where naturally there are a lot of questions about her reading and writing in Braille.

For the past three years Abby has been asked by her school to have her own table at their annual school health fair where she writes the children's names in braille on cards.

When I visited her this year she had a long line and the kids loved it. All children are innately curious about braille. Braille is fun and kids love secret codes. It's great because the kids get to see braille in action and also get a chance to ask questions.

Do you want to help your child share braille in their school too?

This can be done on a small scale (single classroom) or large scale (school wide like at the health fair). I have seen Abby on the fly do this when friends come over to the house to visit and during her birthday parties. Braille is an essential tool for my daughter since literacy is a vital piece of the puzzle that is her future, so it's important that she share it with her friends and classmates.

All you need are the following items for a child who is blind or visually impaired to share the joys of Braille:

  • Colorful cardstock to braille names on.
  • Perkins Brailler or two. A Perkins SMART Brailler is always a party pleaser.
  • Stickers of all kinds. Foam stickers work great because they are also tactile.
  • Examples of different Braille books. Twin vision books, math textbook and maybe a book with great tactile graphics like Humpty Dumpty and Other Touching Rhymes from National Braille Press.
  • Braille alphabet cards and other tools your child may use including a slate and stylus, magnifiers, abacus and white cane.
  • Optional: Things are better in twos. It may be helpful to have two Perkins Braillers with two people brailling. My daughter's para-professional has helped every year (her para-professional may have more fun than Abby does).
  • Optional: a fun braille t-shirt.

It really is that simple.

And yes, the kids really do love it!

For more ideas, check out an article from Carol Castellano, Bringing Blindness Awareness to the Sighted Classroom.

Penny Duffy is the parent of a 10-year-old daughter, Abby, who is blind.