child using refreshable braille display

Refreshable Braille Display Commands for the Emerging Braille Reader: R Chord & P Chord

Introducing chord commands to Layla, a preschooler using an iPad paired with a refreshable braille display.

After introducing a 4 year old student to the “Exploring Braille with Madilyn and Ruff” app, she was hooked. I was able to use the app as motivation for her to learn a few Refreshable Braille Display commands. 

I started by having the iPad and Refreshable Braille Display (RBD) ready to go, and asked her if she wanted to play “Exploring Braille with Madilyn and Ruff.” I told her that she needed to help me find it on the iPad! 

I did a very brief intro on how apps are set up on the iPad by explaining that the iPad has a lot of different games, books, and other options that we call “apps.” I told her that one way we can find the app we want is by using the braille display. 

swing-cell set

R Chord

(1, 2, 3, 5, space bar)

We use the R chord to tell the iPad to “read” the choices to us. To get voice over to “read,” we needed to write the letter r at the same time we push the space bar. (The student asked to touch the letter r on the swing-cell set to remember the dots for writing it, and we said the dots out loud together as she put her fingers on the keys.) Then she put her thumb on the space bar with a little help, and it worked! Voice over “read” all of the apps on the entire first page of the iPad. We heard “Exploring Braille” and we knew we missed it because voice over kept “reading”. That’s why we also needed to learn the P chord.

P Chord

(1, 2, 3, 4, space bar)

I told her we need to listen closely so we could tell voice over to “pause” when we hear “Exploring Braille.” To tell voice over to “pause,” we need to write the letter p and the space bar at the same time. I told her the dots for the letter p as she placed her fingers on the braille display.

girl with glasses using a refreshable braille display

Putting It All Together

Now that she had practiced the R chord and the P chord, she was ready to get to the app all by herself! She really had to listen to voice over to hear “Exploring Braille” and she had to be quick to use the P Chord when she heard it. After a few tries she was successful! It’s hard to time the P chord perfectly, so she typically uses the joystick to go back to the app she wants. 

Now, each time she uses the iPad, she is in charge of using the chords to find the app we are using for the lesson. As a result, “r” and “p” are two of the letters that she consistently wrote correctly on the Perkins Brailler.

RBD collage


More posts about Layla:

By Rachel Harris

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