Literacy and Braille Resources

Literacy at its simplest means the ability to read and write. However, it starts with comprehension and encompasses many media and formats, including listening, speaking, and object communication. Most children aim for basic or academic literacy, which is the ability to use reading as a tool to gain more knowledge. Others will strive to attain functional literacy, which supports the activities of daily life. This section offers an introduction to the forms of literacy for children who are blind and visually impaired, ranging from tactile symbols and calendar boxes to print and braille.

This information sheet offers advice for creating tactile representations of real life experiences.

Source: Project SALUTE

Motor and cognitive skills essential to literacy are presented in a grid that shows how they interrelate and support a child's development (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).

Source: Paths to Literacy

J.M. Stratton "explores the fit between emergent literacy and the learning needs of children who are blind or visually impaired"; includes literature overview.

Janice Day, Andrea McDonnell, and Lora Heathfield discuss ways to enhance literacy skills in inclusive preschool settings by incorporating braille and large print into the classroom; media, materials, and equipment; curriculum modifications, and more.

Source: Exceptional Children

Patricia Weismer and Deirdre Leech share specific strategies (pp. 6-13) for teaching reading to children with deafblindness or multiple disabilities, including suggestions for adaptations, modifications of materials. Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Source: In Touch, 2008, New England Consortium of Deafblind Projects

This selection of online resources includes information on all aspects of braille, from the alphabet and history to commercial sites with chocolate bars and jewelry.

Source: Enabling Technologies

National Braille Press maintains this directory of resources for braille publications.

Source: National Braille Press (NBP)

DVI's position paper asserts the need for "appropriate assessment, instruction, and adaptations" and sets guidelines for providing an appropriate education program for students with low vision.

Source: Council for Exceptional Children-Division on Visual Impairments (CECDVI)

This PDF brochure highlights five literacy practices for children with visual impairments. It includes a list of useful organizations, and then covers ideas for reading, talking, playing, writing, and singing with children. 

Source: New York Public Library

Future Reflections, 2013.

Teacher and consumer Heather Field explains her Hands Only approach for teaching braille to children with low vision.

Source: National Federation of the Blind (NFB)

This 42-page PDF manual is excellent for families, administrators, and general education teachers who need to understand how educational services are delivered to students with visual impairments 

Source: Virginia Department of Education

This site describes Touch the Universe: A NASA Braille Book of Astronomy, which uses embossed images of planets, nebulae, stars, and galaxies to make it accessible to readers who are blind and visually impaired. The site includes released images, text, videos, Fast Facts, and related links.

Source: HubbleSite

Parents learn the importance of exposing children with visual impairments to literacy skills from a very early age; includes activities to enjoy together.

Source: FamilyConnect

This article introduces parents to braille, the tools used to read and write it, what to expect when their child goes to school, and the role of the Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI).

Source: FamilyConnect

This article describes low vision devices, print size, and literacy issues at school for students learning to read both print and braille

Source: FamilyConnect

Nearly 400,000 books in accessible format for people of all ages all over the world. If you have a print disability, learn about eligibility and signing up here.

Source: Bookshare

This organization offers advice and information on the design and creation of tactile books, including guidelines for commercial publishers for small changes that will make their products more accessible to children with visual impairments.

Source: Tactile Book Advancement Group

This information packet from NFB includes a selection of articles, fliers, braille alphabet cards, and related resources; much of the material can be downloaded from the site.

Source: National Federation of the Blind (NFB)

The purpose of ICEB is "to coordinate and improve standards for braille usage for all English-speaking users of braille." One of their key initiatives is Unified English Braille.

A list of braille courses including an introduction to uncontracted and contracted braille for parents and teachers; participants will learn to read visually and communicate in writing with students who read braille.

Source: Hadley School for the Blind