There are currently 3 students in my district using braille as a primary or secondary media and I wanted to get them together to braille, celebrate their skills, and spread awareness about how amazing braille is, so I hosted a Braille Holiday Party! The goal of the party was also to have people help make tactile/braille cards for the families of the students to be able to send out this holiday season.
I had 3 different stations set up in the cafeteria at an elementary school. I made sure to include directions for each station and diagrams to assist people. My team and I walked around and assisted with Perkins Braillers, encouraged guests to step out of their comfort zones, and advocated for our students and their braille skills.
Station 1: Make and Take Your Own Card
Using Braille Designs, we created a few files in Duxbury and I used my embosser to print pictures in braille for people to color, decorate and add to their own cards. With donations from my team and my students’ families, we had an abundance of stickers, arts and crafts supplies, and cardstock.
Station 2: Card Decoration
This station had 2 parts, adding a braille label, and then adding a tactile element. I bought over 100 holiday cards of different variety from the Dollar Store for $10 and hand brailled the front of each card prior to the party.
Using Braillable Labels, Pin-Fed Label Sheets I embossed the inside phrase of the card to help guests be able to add the label themselves correctly. (Be sure to check your margins to ensure the braille will fit in the card!)
While in Duxbury, I used the snipping tool to copy the phrase in sim-braille font and then pasted it as an image into a word document, with the print. This helped organize the labels and gave guests a visual of what the braille should look like when facing the correct way. I cut the top right corner of each label and placed an example card with each group.
When I sent out invitations for this event, I asked people to donate any tactile stickers and I got a lot donated! They have a great tactile sticker selection at the Dollar Store!
- I had a lot of questions as to what tactile stickers were and in doing some research, I found out you can find a lot when you search for Dimensional Holiday Stickers on Amazon!
After they added the braille label, guests used tactile stickers to enhance the picture on the card, and added decorations to the inside as well.
*Tip: Send out a Google Calendar invite to ensure the event stays on the guests’ calendars instead of getting lost in their inbox.
Braille Party Invitation
Station 3: Braille Station
I had a brailling station where people could braille their own message. I gathered as many Perkins Braillers as I could find, and borrowed some from other local TVIs. In total, I had 12 Perkins Braillers, and about 30 guests came during the 2 hours.
I made sure to have an alphabet cheat sheet, as well as a brailling reference guide for people to use. I modified a powerpoint I found online to make a printout guide of the parts of a Perkins Brailler as well as how to put paper into a Perkins Brailler. Then I tweaked a drawing in braille picture to make it smaller and only 10 lines so it would fit on the front of the card. I made a reference sheet to go along with it and made sure to add in all the needed contractions.
Guests used folded cardstock to braille their tree and/or message inside! My team and I walked around to offer help and support to those who needed it. We encouraged guests to ask our students for help since they are the braille experts!
Braille Your Own Tree
- How to Load Paper into a Perkins Brailler
- Parts of a Perkins Brailler
- Braille Alphabet Finger Cheat Sheet
- Perkins Braillers
- cheat sheet print outs
- dimensional holiday stickers
- arts and crafts supplies
- sample cards
- braille label paper
- refreshments for guests
- speaker for music
This idea came to be while talking to one of my student’s families about the lack of availability of affordable, good quality, braille cards. Once we came up with this idea, I presented the it to the principal of the elementary school I am based out of. She agreed and we reserved half of the cafeteria for 2 hours from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. one day after school. I confirmed the date would work with the other families and we started brainstorming! I had a huge support from my team and this event would not have been so successful without them. One of my team members brought small water bottles, cookies and candy, to be served as refreshments. A teacher in the building volunteered as the greeter for the event, to let guests in the building after school hours which was very helpful!
I then created a flyer and made a very large Google Calendar invite and sent it to the entire staff of each building our braille using students were in. I invited administration and the service providers of my students. It was a fantastic event and one I know I will do again!