Braille writing instruction will happen at the same time as braille reading instruction. It is important to teach all braille learners the parts of the brailler, along with inserting paper. There are a number of braille writers available and everyone has differing opinions, but I prefer to start with the Perkins Brailler. It’s good for building up finger strength and finger isolation. This is in turn aids with not only braille reading, but also with more sensitive braille writing devices, like electronic braille note-takers, and keyboarding skills for computer access.
1. Scribble writing!
- Just as is the case with sighted children, scribble writing with a brailler comes before learning to write letters. It is important that students are using the brailler every day and are learning the purpose of why we write.
- Students may need hand-over-hand or hand-under-hand assistance to start. Once they start pressing keys, it’s okay that in the beginning they are pressing lightly, pressing all keys at once, or only one key. We want them to be independent in this activity. The more they do it, the stronger their fingers will become and the more they will be able to isolate and press down hard on the keys.
- Build up finger strength and isolation.
- Have them “choose” what to “write” about. They may need prompts like “what I will be for Halloween” or “what I want to be when I grow up”.
- Have them take the paper out and touch the braille to “read” back to you what they wrote. It’s okay at this point if they are not tracking lines properly, as long as their fingers are on the page.
- Write in print what they “wrote” in braille and keep for data as well as to share with parents.
- Encourage independence and “journal writing”!
- Get your Occupational Therapist involved! They will be a huge help. They may even practice on the brailler during their lessons.
See related post: Scribbling With My Son Who Is Deafblind
2. Begin finger isolation on the individual keys.
- Students may need hand-under-hand or hand-over-hand assistance initially.
- This is where you will progress to independent writing on correct keys.
- Progress from full cells with each finger placed on the correct keys to individual keys.
3. Once able to isolate fingers, begin writing individual dots.
- Write a full line of each dot.
- Then all dots in order, 1 space 2 space 3 space…
- Then mixtures of dots without them knowing necessarily that they are writing letters, as long as they are creating different configurations of dots with fingers on the correct keys.
- Use song like “I use this finger” in the Braille Writing Song
See related post: Braille Writing Song
4. Beging writing letters, once students are isolating fingers and dots numbers are memorized.
- Have them repeat to you what they are writing and what the dot numbers are
- Use a song or chant when memorizing dots – A is dot 1, B is dot 1-2
- Use can also clap out the dots like when clapping out syllables in a word
- Write full line of each letter with and without spaces in between
- Again progress from hand over hand to physical prompting to verbal prompting to no prompting
- You can use the Braille Rap Song from APH.
- Adapt the “I use this finger” song for letters
- Ex. “I use these fingers to make the letter c (hold up the two index fingers for dots 1 and 4), see how they press to make the letter c” – use same chorus
5. Incorporate swing cell braille reading into braille writing
See related post: Introducing the Swing Cell to Beginning Braille Students
- It is so important to give all students the opportunity to learn braille, regardless of additional disabilities.
- The road never really ends and there is a lifetime for them to use braille.
- Progress can always be made.
- Please take what worked with my students and apply it, all of it or some of it. Just try!
- If there is any potential there for these children to learn to read and write, we owe it to them to try!