Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What braille means to Abby.

I can remember the first time I heard the word braille  related to Abby. It was this past November at a school meeting.  I remember feeling shocked.  Hurt. Surprised.  Abby can see, she just can't see well. I knew nothing about braille. I only knew that blind people used it to read.  The idea of reading with touch was foreign and weird concept to me. I wanted to fight and say No she doesnt' need braille but thankfully I  have a pretty open mind. The teacher of the visually impaired who had done Abby's functional visual assessment was a professional with experience and I was a parent who hadn't come to terms with the fact her daughter was blind.
Abby reading braille in a phonics book.
Print really isn't isn't accessible for Abby at all. If its really bold and large (larger then standard enlarged print) and she puts it right to her face she can sometimes see a little of it.   When Abby started first grade she still was not reading.  She has all the basics and has always been a very bright child. She just wasn't reading.  I realize now that she was delayed because of her vision issues. When I struggled over the summer to try and help teach her to read  I had no idea and felt defeated and confused.

Something amazing happened when Abby got introduced braille. She slowly started to read.  It did take some time. She had to learn the basics of braille before those dots meant anything to her fingers. She fought being taught something different than her peers.  It was hard work (and still is)  There was something special that happened  a few months ago.  She started to read.  READ.  There is nothing more basic in a child's education then learning to read.

I just spent some time with Abby reading on our porch and its amazing. Its fun. Sometimes there is a reading mistake, sometime there is a mistake feeling a letter, and sometimes its a braille contraction but she keeps going.  She has a little bit to catch up with her grade level but I really think she will be there come second grade.  It all takes practice and thats something I can give her.

Do you know there are blind children who are given inadequate braille instruction (or not at all) in this country.  Think about that.  No child that benefit from learning braille should be denied. Its that simple. Listening to audio books and using text to speech on a computer is not a replacement for reading.  They are all tools but they don't replace reading.   Abby was truly lucky.  I cringe thinking about where Abby would be if  she wasn't given braille.  Braille is a gift I am thankful my daughter received.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

I totally agree!! She is lucky that you are so positive about braille and advocating that she gets good braille instruction. My son is only 20 months old but I already have a couple braille/print books. Gotta start early!