Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Teaching Punctuation and Writing Conventions to Students with Visual Impairments

punctuation marks

Classroom lesson focusing on on-going writing lessons aimed at improving writing conventions as well as other skills

Barriers with students who are blind or visually impaired include:

  1. Students with visual impairments do not always get the benefit of visual, spatially displayed, graphic organizers for writing tasks.
  2. Poor fine motor skills may interfere with writing fluency & speed 
  3. Underlining and italics are visual qualities, both of which are represented in braille by the emphasis indicator, but the differences between bold, underline, and italics are not discerned in braille.
  4. Students with visual impairments often struggle more with spelling, due to the nature of the English language
  5. Braille materials are not always stimulating due to lack of picture clues, color, etc.

Other foundational skills addressed:

  • Using correct capitalization
  • Use of commas and quotation marks in addresses, dialogue, direct speech, before a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence, and quotations from a text
  • Form and use of possessives
  • Use conventional spelling for high frequency and other studied words and for adding suffixes to base words.
  • Use spelling patterns and generalizations (e.g., word families, position-based spelling, syllable patterns, ending rules, meaningful word parts) in writing words
  • Consulting reference materials including beginning dictionaries, as needed to check and correct spellings


Individually introduce use of capitalization, punctuation (comma, underline, quotation marks, and italics) and spelling strategies.
  1. Self-checking of written work and then discussion with instructor.
  2. Use of a “memory aid” book with colorful & tactual graphic templates to remember items such as “CUPS” – Capitalization, Usage, Punctuation & Spelling.
  3. Use of a dictionary and spell check.
  4. Classroom teacher should verbally describe graphic organizers.
  5. Materials should be modified to incorporate a tactual model.
  6. Incorporate technology, such as a braille note-taker, iPad, etc.
  7. Strategies can be conveyed to the classroom teacher at a weekly consultation meeting and incorporated with the help of a teaching assistant.


Functional skills from the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) can be incorporated into the lesson, using the examples below:

  1. Visual Efficiency Skills – using residual vision to understand tasks
  2. Independent Living Skills – time management
  3. Compensatory Skills – concepts, organization, listening, study skills, reference skills, note-taking skills, reading charts, graphs, diagrams, braille code, reading & writing, use of adaptations & modifications
  4. Assistive Technology – use of a braille note-taker, use of a word processor
Common Core and Braille Standards


L.5.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
L.5.2a Use punctuation to separate items in a series.*
L.5.2b Use a comma to separate an introductory element from the rest of the sentence.
L.5.2c Use a comma to set off the words yes and no (e.g., Yes, thank you), to set off a tag question from the rest of the sentence (e.g., It’s true, isn’t it?), and to indicate direct address (e.g., Is that you, Steve?).
L.5.2d Use underlining, quotation marks, or italics to indicate titles of works.
L.5.2e Spell grade-appropriate words correctly, consulting references as needed.
Posted on December 8, 2014
Updated on: February 7, 2018