Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Slate and Stylus

When Louis Braille invented his braille code in the 1800s he used a version of a slate and stylus to write it.  


Four line metal slate with 27 cells per line.

This 4 line, 27 cell slate is a common tool used by individuals who are braille readers.


A stylus is a pointed tool that is used to press on the slate and make the indentations for the braille.  On the slate above, each hole is actually a cell with 6 indentations.  Below is an enlarged view of 4 cells.

When using the slate and stylus an individual writes from right to left.  People often think this is hard because one has to write "backwards."  In reality, this is not the case, and children and adults who use the braille code do not find using a slate and stylus any more challenging than you find using a pen and paper.

Children need to have well developed motor skills to be efficient with the slate and stylus.  Generally, this tool is introduced for formal writing in 3rd or 4th grade.  However, young children benefit from the opportunity to use a slate and stylus.  Think of this in the same way we let children use crayons and markers, well before they draw legible pictures or write letters and numbers.

Another tool for writing braille is a portable note taking device.