I am a TVI (Teacher of the Visually Impaired) who works in an Illinois School District. I have worked in a self-contained, resource room and itinerant positions since 1998. I am currently the Lead Vision Itinerant for my district. My caseload the last couple of years has included many young, bilingual children learning braille as their main learning media. Especially during our online learning, it was difficult to keep the students and their caregivers motivated during our sessions. During this time, I incorporated many movement and dance breaks with Jack Hartmann.
Jack Hartmann has created over 1000 songs and more than 45 albums during his career as a children’s song writer. His silly, educational songs help supplement our learning. While listening to his “See It, Say It, Sign It” video one of my dual media students asked why Jack does sign language but not braille?
This was a very good question. At his request, I reached out to Mr. Hartmann to see if making a fun, educational braille video was possible.
Jack Hartmann was very receptive to learning more about braille and how he could help reach our students with a fun song. We soon decided it would be easiest to make two songs in order to encompass what my students, and hopefully many others, would need.
This is how we came up with the Braille Alphabet Word Sign song as well as the Braille Alphabet Phonetic song. I wanted the song to have a fun beat as well as state the dot numbers in a slower manner allowing the student, and/or caregiver, time to place their fingers on the Braille writer while the song was playing.
My students also have a hard time memorizing the alphabetic wordsigns. This is why we created a song with the word signs, even though they do not phonetically translate to the beginning letter sound in all cases. When the students are learning braille, it is necessary to learn the sounds as well as the corresponding alphabetic word sign.
Next, we created the Tangible Braille Alphabet song. There were a few main goals to this song:
- The dot numbers to be stated in a purposeful manner, giving time to either create on a braille cell or place fingers correctly on a braille writer.
- To emphasize the sound each letter makes.
- The items/objects stated to be easily accessible and tangible. Too often, phonetic songs use difficult to obtain or abstract words.
My hope is that young children and their families will enjoy learning more about the braille alphabet through these fun, educational songs.
We also created a Literary Number song and a Nemeth Code Number song. They have increased contrast to assist the dual media learners as well as a new fun beat.