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Friday, September 23, 2011

The Synchronicity of Braille & Technology

I use many methods for getting students going on their blinds skills. One way is using the Synchronicity of Braille & Technology. When I set up elementary rooms or my classroom for all the equipment to fit, I use the L shape of 2 desks, that way you can place braille books on one side so the child can read, then turn to the other side of the L and type out information on the computer. This is perfect for the elementary school setup. By the time they reach middle school and have all their blind skill foundation, they can move into almost all their books being electronic, minus the Nemeth books which, for now, need to be hard copy braille.

The students will have a brailler, or Braille Note in front of them along with the keyboard to the computer with talking software and the braille work on the other side of the L. I will have them read a line of braille, then braille it, read from display if using an adapted laptop or brailler, then type it on the computer. This way they are taking the braille and seeing how it relates to the print. They quickly learn that braille is braille with all its contractions and print is print and the contraction for" the" is t-h-e and so on. There is no confusion between braille and print and the children go onto become good spellers because of this knowledge and way of learning. If I am ever with them on their computer and they type a word, I will ask "What is the braille contraction for that word?" and they tell me. When the focus is on a braille lesson and they come upon contractions, I ask them, "How would you spell that on the computer?" Once again solidifying the Synchronicity of Braille & Technology.

When the children get to class, they have the familiar L shape arrangement, which helps them keep organized also. They know where to place their books as the computer is taking up one side. Each side of the desks shaped in an L has slots or drawers for storing tools underneath. Organization is key to any blind child so they can find their tools when they need them. When the child is organized and ready they can follow along with class and do just what everyone else is doing. Since the students have and know about many tools, they can choose what they will need at any given time. They learn the joy of reading through braille and the joy of being able to output information quicker than their sighted peers due to the use of the computer. If you know key commands, it is far faster than trying to locate a mouse with your eyes, and I am talking about sighted kids here. My students are far faster on the computer than sighted kids. When the sighted students get stuck, it is my students they turn to and who can get them out of trouble by telling them a keystroke. They know that and are very impressed with their speed and agility on technology as well as watching them read those beautiful dots with their fingers.

Here is kudos to our kids.

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