Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Oral Strategies for Writing

Group of students sit in a circle with an instructor who is signing to them.



Storytelling offers opportunities for learners to practice sequencing ideas, establishing a narrative, and expanding vocabulary.  Props can be used to graphically represent events in the story, and stories can be recorded and put into written format (braille or print) afterward.  See the articles below to help you get started.


Storytelling:  Addressing the Literacy Needs of Diverse Learners
by Susan Craig, Karla Hull, Ann G. Haggart, Elaine Crowder.  Teaching Exceptional Children, vol. 33, no. 5 (pp. 46-51), 2001.

According to this article, "Oral stories help children acquire the context of literacy".  It offers practical suggestions for meeting the needs of a culturally diverse learners, including:

  • Collaborative Strategies to Share with General Education Teachers
  • Try This in Your Classroom
  • Teacher Reflections to Discuss with Your Collaborative Partners


Interactive Story Telling for Deafblind Children
Keith Park, Deaf-Blind Perspectives, Vol. 8, Issue 3, Spring 2001 (page 5)
This article presents four examples of story telling activities that have been made accessible for children who are deafblind and have cognitive disabilities. All of the stories are were written  for a specific group of children.   Rhythm, repetitive patterns, and percussive methods are used to emphasize the meaning and feeling of each story. 


Using Oral Traditions to Improve Verbal and Listening Skills
by Joanne R. Pompano, Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute

This curriculum unit was developed to assist students who are blind or visually impaired in their efforts to improve oral and listening skills. This curriculum unit will attempt to help them understand the importance of words and how words are used to convey information and to influence society. Students will learn to appreciate stories, understand how they are constructed, and understand the role they played in African and African American culture.



Student sits outside and speaks.


Students can write through the use of dictation, either to a person or to a recording device.  If a recording device is being used, the student or an assistant can transcribe it later into print or braille It is often helpful to create a hard copy of the student's work, as it is more durable, and can also be shared with others and used to practice reading skills.

For students at a beginning level, dictation can also be used to create an experience story, telling about a routine or special event in the child's life.  In addition to transcribing it into print or braille, the student can also use objects or tactile symbols to illustrate the story.



Voice-Recognition Software

Voice Recognition for Blind Computer Users  (January 2007)

This 4-page Fact Sheet from AbilityNet provides a summary of some of the issues, specific to individuals who are blind, in using speech-to-text programs.

Use of Voice Recognition in Special Education  (February 2003)
This is a discussion posted on about using voice recognition software with students with physical disabilities and learning disabilities, but not specific to visual impairments.


Spotlight on Voice Recognition

This is from the National Center to Improve Practice in Special Education Through Technology, Media, and Materials.  There is a nice tutorial on the use of voice recognition software to support writing.