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Bridging the Gap: Pre-Braille to Braille Reader

Tips to help emerging braille readers, including those who are struggling readers, to develop foundational skills to promote braille literacy

This post will specifically discuss braille instruction strategies for students with multiple impairments or intellectual disabilities.

We are assuming that you have done pre-braille activities up to this point. Examples of tools and resources for the pre-braille stage:
  • Oregon Project Checklist
  • Experience Books
  • Bookbags
  • Experience Activities: Exploring a purse, toolbox, baking items, etc.
  • Fine motor: lacing cards, peg board, thera-putty, etc.
  • Tactile Awareness: Identifying Textures
  • Great book: Beginning with Braille by Anna Swenson (Specifically refer to Chp. 8)

Bridging the Gap Steps:

1. Progressing from identification of 3-D Shapes to 2-D Shapes

  • In the beginning explore hand-under-hand.  Discuss the 3-D shape and connect to a real life object, e.g. rectangular prism to a cereal box, cone to an ice cream cone or sphere to a ball.
  • Build upon shapes recognized.  Yes, all the way to the hexagonal prism!
  • Transfer the 3-D shapes to 2-D shapes that they can hold in their hand.
  • I made these out of a plastic notebook divider.

3-D shapesImage of rectangle, circle, triangle, and square made from plastic notebook divider

2. Move from the large 2-D shapes they can hold in their hand to small 2-D Shapes.


Image of multiple shaped pieces made from cardboard, plastic, and paper

3. Progress from sorting these shapes, to identification, to matching and finally to understanding same and different.

Image of child identifying shaped pieces

  • Start small and progress, 2, then 3, then 4, etc.







  • Activities:

    • Student finds requested shape
    • Student pulls a shape out of a container, identifies, then locate matching shape
Child touching shapestrack with shapes applied

4. Progress from same and different concept to tracking lines of 2-D textured shapes.

  • Again, progress to more difficulty


Bumpy square pieces on track

Bumpy squares with one bumpy circle

Track with four tan squares and one blue

Bumpy squares with one soft square


Multiple shapes and multiple textures

Multiple textures with a different shape


This will help them to become sensitive to what is under their fingertips!

Tracking Lines

Image of tracking lines
  • Once they are able to identify shapes
  • Begin by tracking 2 lines
Student tracking two lines
  • Then, increase the amount of lines and shapes. 
Student tracking four lines
  • Track just like they would a braille line
  • Mimic tracking braille
  • Practicing getting to next line
  • Hand under hand, then hand over hand (skip hand over hand if they are able to mimic how you tracked the lines hand under hand), then physical prompting, then verbal prompting to NO prompting!
  • Time them to increase their speed, they like to try and beat their best time

5. Transfer 2-D Hand-held or Raised to 2-D Braille on the Page

  • 2-D velcro shapes are still more raised and 3-D than braille
  • Must transfer awareness of velcro shapes to actual 2-D shapes or characters on the page
  • I like to start with tactile shapes glued to the page:
Student using 2D Baille2D shapes
  • This leads into book concepts

    • Begins awareness of how to “read” a book
    • This is the first book they can truly read independently
    • Title page may be: square, circle, triangle
    • Include braille page numbers and teach them to identify where the page number is located
    • Ask: What’s on this page? Where is it spatially? 
    • Ask: Can you find the page with a soft square?  Can you find the page with one smooth triangle in the top left hand corner?
    • Increase complexity


  • Image of 2D trackerMoves into the Touch and Tell books Vols. 1-3

    • Found at APH
    • Match previous 2-D shapes to the braille shapes
    • Same as Velcro shapes
    • Identification
    • Same and Different
    • Tracking Lines


Textured shapes


6. At this point, you will now be able to move on to typical braille instruction.


Pinterest collage of pre-braille reader to braille reader


Uno braille playing cards with large print
Activity and strategy

Games for Students with Visual Impairments

Student wrtiing on an adapted handwriting paper with four lines and highlighted
Activity and strategy

Finding the Right Paper

Jessica Hayes
Activity and strategy

TVI Creates Braille Videos with Jack Hartmann