Tips and guides

Introducing a Braille Display to a Child Who Is Deafblind

A parent of a boy who is deafblind describes her son's refreshable braille display and her hopes for the doors that will open to him through assistive technology.

I have a seven-year-old son named Liam who attends a mainstream second grade classroom.  He is deafblind and a braille reader.  Technology will open so many doors for Liam in the future.   These “doors” include vast opportunities for telecommunication, job opportunities, education,  entertainment, independent living tools, and more.   In my opinion it is crucial to familiarize our children with vision impairments with technology as early as possible.  

Which Refreshable Braille Display Was Selected?

Liam’s TVI at school introduced the Focus 14 early on in first grade, as soon as Liam was able to recognize his ABC’s.  The Focus 14 from Freedom Scientific is a refreshable braille display that has 14 refreshable braille cells.  We use Liam’s Focus 14 with either an iPad or and iPhone.  It connects wirelessly via Bluetooth.  
 
A Focus 14 refreshable braille display with an iPad
 

How Is the Refreshable Braille Display Used at School?

At school they started out using the Focus 14 to reinforce sight words and new contractions that he learned during his lessons.  Liam was allowed to touch only the refreshable braille display at first.  Slowly, as the months went on, he began reading sentences on the Focus 14 and was then taught how to push the buttons to scroll through his sentences.  He was also taught how to type words onto the Focus 14, just as he would on his Perkins Brailler.   They call the Focus 14 the “Important Braille Computer” at school.  It is treated as a privilege to use it and he loves it.  We have one at home and school.  
 
Using Focus 14   Using the Focus 14
 
Future goals using a refreshable braille display would eventually be for Liam to navigate through the internet, send and receive email messages, text friends and family, etc.   I am thankful for the gift of technology and what this means for my son!