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.

In her dissertation for the University of Stuttgart, Christine Lauenstein examines whether braille's structural elements "inhibit writing performance because they interfere with language processes" and result in poor spelling skills.

Source: University of Stuttgart

This page of the Paths to Literacy site provides a brief introduction to braille, including how it was invented, what the difference is between contracted and uncontracted braille, and additional resources for learning more about braille.

Source: Paths to Literacy

This interactive site is an online hub for all aspects of literacy for students who are blind or visually impaired, including those with additional disabilities. A collaboration between Perkins School for the Blind and Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Paths to Literacy invites users to share strategies, technology, resources, and research. Get a tour of the site here.

Authors Cindy Reed-Brown and Peggy Palmer share aspects of the pre-braille curricula that are helpful for families who want to support their child's pre-literacy skills. There are additional resources listed at the end of the article.

Source: Paths to Literacy

Terry Connolly discusses a variety of pre-braille experiences, including number concepts and patterns, motor skills, braille in everyday life,  literature rich experiences, reading from left to right, and moving from the concrete to the abstract.

Source: National Federation of the Blind (NFB)

This section of the Paths to Literacy site offers an introduction to teaching literacy skills to students with low vision, instructional strategies for students with a visual impairment, information on magnification, technology for students with low vision, sources of large print materials, and tools for handwriting, and print.

Source: Paths to Literacy

Over 50,000 free full-text books no longer under copyright. Downloaded books can be read with a screen reader or scanner.

Developed in collaboration with BANA (Braille Authority of North America), these are APH's proposed guidelines for transcribing early literacy textbooks into braille.

Source: American Printing House for the Blind (APH)

"Tips for Home or School" are suggestions for encouraging children with significant disabilities to write. Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Source: Nevada Dual Sensory Impairment Project

The author offers ideas parents can use to foster a love of reading and writing in preschool-age children with visual impairments.

Source: FamilyConnect

AFB's Family Connect shares tips on choosing books to read with small children, adding tactile drawings and braille to a book, and making story bags or story boxes.

Source: FamilyConnect

Diane Miller shares her experiences in helping her blind daughter to develop literacy skills. She describes the importance of bridging concepts, her search for braille books, homemade books, and how she created a literate environment.

Source: Family Connect

A “resource to provide classroom teachers with a selection of strategies to address the reading needs of students with visual impairments.”

Source: Special Education Technology British Columbia

Reading and writing with low vision optical and non-optical devices, braille, large print, listening, and handwriting.

Source: VisionAware

List of resources for families of children who are blind or visually impaired on topics such as Parenting and General Information, Family Life and Siblings, Literacy, Braille Books and Learning Materials, and Education, Advocacy & Early Intervention.

Source: Perkins School for the Blind

One of the leading service agencies in the United Kingdom, RNIB offers practical support, advice, and imaginative solutions to anyone with a vision disorder; distributes braille and Talking Books nationwide.

Source: Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB)

Seedlings Braille Books for Children is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization dedicated to increasing the opportunity for literacy by providing high quality, low cost braille books for children.

Sensational Books is devoted to making art more accessible for those who are blind or visually impaired. The company was founded by  Ann Cunningham, an award winning botanical illustrator and Art Teacher at the Colorado Center for the Blind. Though the product line is not extensive, of particular interest for science teachers of the visually impaired is the option of custom ordering tactile graphics. 

Sensational books also offers the Sensational Blackboard - a very portable, versatile, inexpensive drawing tool. See review.


For those in Colorado, workshops offered by Sensational Books may be of interest. These workshops are customized to the group for which the workshop is intended.  Learn more.


AFB provides a list "of sources for borrowing or purchasing braille and print/braille children's books and magazines in the United States."

Source: American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)

This page of the Paths to Literacy site lists publishers, organizations, and distributors of books in braille and large print.

Source: Paths to Literacy