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Teaching Braille Readers Self-Determination and Problem Solving Skills

High school braille students work on self-advocacy, self-determination and problem solving skills as part of their braille literacy program

Alison Prskawetz is the Co-ordinator of Visual Resource Centres at Blind Low Vision Education Network New Zealand (BLENNZ). For more information about BLENNZ, visit them at:

As part of literacy through braille we looked at different themes. During the 2014 High Flyers Braille courses, students aged 9-14 years worked on Student Agency, which encompasses self-determination and problem solving, with particular focus on research skills. Each student developed a personal goal around self-advocacy / research skills.  The students were required to outline what they would do and what support they would expect from their peers, family, class teacher, teacher aide and Resource Teacher Vision. They also developed an expected achievable outcome that would be shared at the IEP. 

Below are two examples of this for two of our students:



To independently research on the Internet:  I will find my information independently on the Internet.  I will do this by connecting my iPhone to my BrailleNote.

How the team will support me to achieve this goal?

  • Peers: Could recommend good websites to look for things on if they have researched similar topics in the past.
  • TA: Could help me explore websites and find information if I can’t do so using my technology.
  • RTV: Could help me explore the Internet on the iPhone and find which websites are likely to be accessible
  • Family: Could help me do all of these things at home.
  • Class Teacher: Could recommend websites and give me information to research.

How will I know that I have been successful?

  • More independence
  • Getting information faster
  • I will not rely on other people to find information for me
  • I will be able to get information quicker and easier and not have to wait for information to be sent to me by sighted teachers.




Learning how navigate through different websites and using email independently using my Apex.  I will do this by asking RTV how to search up different websites using my Apex.

How the team will support me to achieve this goal?

  • Peers: Send emails with good links for great websites
  • RTV: Help me figure out how to search on the Internet.
  • TA: Work alongside me on the laptop to make sure I am on the correct website. Email me information that I need to email back.
  • Family: Ask me questions to look up.
  • Class teacher: Give me child-friendly websites to look up.

How will I know that I have been successful?

  • Being able to do my homework and schoolwork independently.
  • My IEP team will know I will be working independently on my Internet tasks.   
As we have seen value and growth in this way of promoting self-determination or student agency, we have decided that this year it will be part of the goal setting in school age immersion courses. This has been rolled out in two courses this term with very positive feedback from the staff and students. 

self advocacy collage



tick-tack-toe game made of felt.

Fun End of the School Year Activities


A Student’s Perspective on BrailleNote

Six students in cap and gowns jumping in the air.

End of Year Wrap Up for Teachers