Kids who are blind need access to technology at the same time as their sighted peers. Young sighted children are getting their hands on their parents’ iPhones and iPads and it is so important for our students to have access to technology as well.
I am excited to share my experiences using the iPad and Refreshable Braille Display over the past year with a 4-year-old student in a general education preschool setting.
When I started using the iPad as an instructional tool with the 4-year-old student who is blind, she already had a strong love for reading activities (thanks to a highly supportive family). She was able to sit and engage in a teacher-directed activity, and she could tactually identify a handful of braille letters of the alphabet. I had been taking an iPad professional development course and heard about an app made specifically for young students learning to read braille, called “Exploring Braille with Madilyn and Ruff.”
The first lesson involved these steps:
- Having the app open and Refreshable Braille Display (RBD) paired with the iPad, so the student immediately heard the sounds of the app and was curious about what we would be doing.
- Letting the student explore the RBD and labeling the parts.
- This particular student had sufficient fine motor skills to manipulate the joystick, and so I was able to give verbal directions of “push the joystick to the right or push the joystick down.” She caught on quickly! For this app it worked well to start with the Reading Game under the “Let’s Play” tab.
- Directing the child to take her hands off of the joystick and place it on the top left of the RBD in order to read the braille.
The laughter and excitement that this student expressed from feeling the braille appear and disappear on the braille display was amazing! She asked to use the iPad daily after playing the game.
This app was a valuable tool for this student learning to read and write the letters of the alphabet. The immediate feedback from the iPad about whether she read or wrote the letter correctly was a highly motivating way for her to learn and practice her letters!
Want more ideas on how to teach a preschooler about accessible technology? Check out these posts!