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 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

Barbara Miles defines literacy, its social functions, and the conditions necessary for its development. She includes numerous specific suggestions and activities to increase literacy skills.

Source: DB-LINK

A wealth of articles with literacy tips for every stage of development.

Source: FamilyConnect

These guidelines outline each step in making a fabric tactile book, from selecting a theme to gathering materials and putting it all together. (Microsoft Word Document)

Source: ClearVision

Includes both Math and ELA (English/Language Arts). These frameworks are based on the same Maryland Common Core Curriculum Frameworks that were adopted by the State Board and include the identified braille skills and expectations at each grade level (Pre-kindergarten through grade 12) for students who read braille. The standards provide a clear roadmap of braille instruction for teachers and parents to improve literacy skills for students who read braille.

Source: School Improvement in Maryland

BANA offers the Music Braille Code (2015) as a free download in two electronic versions: PDF and BRF.

Source: Braille Authority of North America (BANA)

The mission of the National Braille Association is "to provide continuing education to those who prepare braille, and to provide braille materials to persons who are visually impaired."

Source: National Braille Association

A non-profit braille publisher, National Braille Press promotes the literacy of blind children through braille, and provides access to information that empowers blind people to actively engage in work, family, and community affairs.

NCDB is a national technical assistance and dissemination center for information about deafblindness. While most resources focus on the needs of children and youth, there is wealth of information here in the Adult Services section.

"Through a national network of cooperating libraries, NLS administers a free library program of braille and audio materials circulated to eligible borrowers in the United States by postage-free mail."

Source: Library of Congress

Writer and AFB Member Deborah Kendrick summarizes an informal survey of consumers with varying degrees of visual impairment in regard to note-taking and information management.

Source: American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)