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Te Kotuituinga Mātauranga Pura o Aotearoa

Teaching braille to a student with low vision

July 30, 2016 by blennzict | 0 comments

Ethan sitting at a classroom table with Perkins brailler

Figure 1 – Ethan is brailling at school

Ethan is a 9 year old student currently in Year 4 and attends his local school.  He has a significant eye condition which greatly impacts on his accessing the curriculum especially with literacy.

Ethan is able to use enlarged readers and worksheets at some points during the school day but can become visually fatigued.

Marg Crosswell talks about how Ethan’s main goal for this year has been to learn braille and so he has been practising brailling the alphabet on the Perkins brailler (figure 1).

Learning the alphabet

A page of braille with animals at the bottom

Figure 2 – Ethan’s first full page of braille

Ethan has learnt the alphabet and 59 shortform words, the fullstop, capital letter and the number sign.

He is starting to learn to read braille using made up worksheets. Figure 2 is Ethan’s first full page of braille.

Prerequisite skills

  • Correct finger placement on the Perkins Brailler.
  • Separation of fingers.
  • Correct pressure on the keys.

Possible next steps

  • To learn all whole word signs.
  • To learn all shortform words , lower cells and common combinations.
  • To write full sentences in grade one braille.
  • To read braille using two hands.
  • To trial using different technology i.e. braille note.

Teaching methods and strategies

Ethan followed a direct instruction approach.  This involves introducing the braille alphabet in a specific way.

Learning adaptations

Braille cell in top right corner of pegboard

Figure 3 – A pegboard is being used to show a braille cell

The programme involves teaching the braille alphabet first. Ethan’s learning style meant he learnt and remembered the different letters of the alphabet by saying the dot number. ie for y 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 or sometimes he would say k and 4, 5, 6.

Using different medium ie peg board with six pegs. Brailled single letter and word cards.

Figure 3 shows a different medium using a peg board with six pegs.


A braille checklist was used as part of the assessment. Ethan went up to Homai for a week with the National Assessment Service team to get an updated record of his vision. At this assessment it became evident that braille had become a good option.

Professional Readings and Resources:

More information

Email us at BLENNZ for more information about this subject. We will link you up with either the author of this post or another BLENNZ colleague with whom you can continue your conversation.

Whole word-signs used in grade-one Braille

September 8, 2013 by blennzict | 0 comments

Brailling the alphabet

Figure 1: Alisha is practising writing the alphabet

Alisha is a sixteen year old student currently in year 12.  Alisha’s primary sensory channel for learning is vision which she supports with her auditory skills.

Alisha has a significant eye condition which is impacting greatly on her ability to access the curriculum despite the accommodations and adaptations made within the school. Continue Reading →

Developing Geometry Skills for Blind Learners

August 1, 2013 by blennzict | 0 comments

Developing hand control

Developing hand control

Shannon is a Year 6 braille student who will be transitioning to intermediate school in 2013.

At the Wellington Visual Resource Centre we are developing key maths skills with two braille learners.

We have been looking specifically at graphing, reading textbooks, abacus skills and geometric drawing skills.

Here Alison Prskawetz, Resource Teacher Vision talks about how the students focused on using a compass and drawing circles.

Continue Reading →

Preparation for Transition to University

July 21, 2013 by blennzict | 0 comments

Áine in an independent work environment at school

Figure 1 Áine in her “office”

Áine is in Year 13 in a mainstream secondary school.  In preparation for attending university in 2013, she is working with her RTV, Jenny McFadden to ensure a smooth transition.

In figure 1 we see Áine in her “office”, an independent work environment at school. Continue Reading →

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