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 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

A partnership of libraries and research institutions dedicated to the digital preservation of the cultural record. Public domain materials are freely accessible to all, using the home page's catalog-stye or full-text search. A User's Guide to HathiTrust is here (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).

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

This overview of DotsPlus® Braille describes how it addresses four problems that plague braille: translation, numbers, exotic symbols, and symbols out of context.

Source: The Science Access Project (SAP) University of Oregon

The Kids Zone is the catalog of audio, braille, and print/braille NLS books for preschool through grade 8, which includes links to award-winning books, bibliographies, and selected series.

Source: National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS)

Learning Ally (formerly Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic) serves students from kindergarten through college age. A nonprofit volunteer organization, Learning Ally makes textbooks and literature available to student who cannot read standard print because of visual impairment, dyslexia, or other physical disability.

This section of the Paths to Literacy site includes an overview of the Learning Media Assessment (LMA), Learning Media Assessment Educational Module, guidelines for deciding between print and braille, special considerations if the child has a hearing loss, and sample learning media assessments.

Source: Paths to Literacy

NCDB offers extensive resources on literacy, including products, articles, publications, bibliographies, Internet resources, and research.

Source: National Consortium on Deaf-Blindness (NCDB)

Presenters from the Perkins Deafblind program describe the types of vision loss they encounter (total blindness, low vision, CVI) and the use of the appropriate materials for young learners who are deafblind.

Source: Perkins eLearning Webinar

Sarah Blake presents a collection of articles "about issues concerning literacy for people who are blind. Some provide theoretical discussions; others present the results of research; still others provide information about teaching methods."

Source: Night-Light

Patricia Weismer and Deirdre Leech list activities to make literacy fun for students with deafblindness. Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.

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

Christopher Craig presents his research on emergent literacy in the home and offers specific suggestions for parents to provide literacy experiences.

Source: Future Reflections, (1995) The National Federation of the Blind (NFB)

Reaching literacy goals for students with blindness or visual impairment calls for a team approach. These information sheets provide guidelines for each member of the education team, and help parents understand their own integral role.  These PDF documents require Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Source: Colorado Department of Education