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.

"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

Search the NLS catalog of braille and audio books. This service is available for free to people with a visual or physical disability that prevents them from reading the printed page. Check your eligibility and apply here.

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)

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.

This site offers an overview, a self-study course with a quiz section to test your comprehension, readings, activities, resources, and more.

Source: Cornell University

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

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

Alternate formats for reading and writing, including talking books, low vision devices, and braille; also available in Spanish.

Source: American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)

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

Diane Miller shares how she helped her daughter 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: American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)

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

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