Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Teaching and Assessing the Appropriateness of Uncontracted Braille: Research Report

Elementary school age boy reads a braille book

Teaching and Assessing the Appropriateness of Uncontracted Braille: Research Report by Herzberg, Tina S.; Stough, Laura M.; Clark, Carolyn M.; Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, v. 98, no. 12.  pp. 773-779 (Dec 2004)

During the past 50 years, teachers have used contracted braille as the preferred method of teaching reading to children and adults. Contracted braille, previously referred to as grade 2 braille, involves the use of the traditional alphabet, along with 189 different characters and contractions that represent a group of letters or whole words. Ponchillia and Durant noted that braille research has focused on the proficiency of braille readers, but few studies have been conducted on the instructional methods used by braille teachers. This pilot study interviewed four certified teachers of students with visual impairments (that is, those who are blind or have low vision) to examine the assessment and instructional strategies that they used with their students. Interviews, the primary method used to collect data for this study, were conducted by the first author over a four-week period and ranged in duration from 30 minutes to 75 minutes. Findings included: (1) four common factors affected the assessment process; (2) teaching uncontracted braille requires different strategies and materials than does teaching contracted braille; and (3) for students to be successful in learning uncontracted braille, teachers thought that their students must understand how the knowledge of braille would be of benefit to them.