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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Beginning with Braille Books

I LOVE Braille books! There are some really cute ones, and it's fun to see Landon read (braille/print) them to Gavin. We are exposing Gavin to braille, and have been since he was about 6 months old. We have several of the smaller thick books w/ braille for little babies. He likes to turn the pages, and he is beginning to get the concept of looking for braille on a book when he is handed one. His tiny little hands will run over the pages of the book. Mind you, his attention span is minimal, which is pretty typical for one at his age. I don't want to give the impression that he sits and reads for periods on end. However, he is beginning to get the concept.

We are huge fans of braille, and have begun labeling his toys, his cube chair, his tray, etc. There is braille all over here. The other day, one of the braille stickers came off from something, and Landon found it on the floor and ran it over to me. I knew it came off the arm of his cube chair, but I told Landon we had to figure out where it belonged. Landon knows how to "spell" his name in braille, meaning he knows by recognition the dot placement of the letters in his name. He found an "a" in the name on the sticker and then we got out our handy dandy braille bug chart and figured out the rest, that it read CHAIR. It's fun!

Just yesterday Landon has a skate t-shirt he was wearing and parts of the design on the shirt looks like it is felt, and it's raised. He was feeling it, and there were raised felt dots and told me that it felt like it was braille. He then ran over to his brother and told him to "Feel it buddy". It's really fascinating how this has become the norm in our lives now, when just 2 years ago, I had no concept of braille, or how important it is to a visually impaired individual living in our sight dominated world.

Gavin's braille book collection is now close to 30 books. Although it is something he cannot read now (especially the thin, paper books - those would be trashed if I let him feel them), the thicker ones, we do read now. It's nice to build up his collection now and know we are saving them for his future. Some I have purchased at conferences, but for the most part, these have all been free. He is in the Dots for Tots program at the Braille Institute that mail him a new book every month. We get some from AFB, and I just read about this Braille Reading Pals Club from NFB. It's a pre-literacy program for blind and low vision children from from infant to seven years old. I didn't know they offered this, so wanted to share. He also gets books from his VI teacher.

I plan on all of us in this house, learning braille. It will be a part of our lives, for the rest of our lives. We need to be comfortable with it, and have somewhat of an understanding. I know for me, I was really bummed when I couldn't participate in the 3 day braille crash course that Braille Institue offered this past February, but I plan on next year. I know I will not walk out of there a braille reader entirely, but exposing yourself and immersement is key to anything you want to learn. It is really difficult, and I'm just talking about Grade 1 braille! I pretty much have the alphabet memorized, as far as knowing the dot placement, but do not have (and probably won't for a while) the touch sensitivity to read a sentence or even a word. (YET)

There are many options out there to begin a nice little library, some take searching. But I am so thankful these have been presented to us and we can help prepare both my kids to get comfortable with braille, and help to expose others in our circle as well. Braille is SO important on so many levels. I can't wait until Gavin can begin reading. ;)

7 comments:

  1. That is so great! I am so glad that your family is doing the braille as well. I really do think it is important.

    We are enjoying our brailler and all of the braille books. I am glad we will be learning as a family. I look forward to reading more as Gavin gets older and see how well he is doing!

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  2. That is so awesome! Gavin is so lucky to have you as his mommy. That's so great that he gets a book each month and that Landon is involved.

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  3. It so great to see that there are so many different ways for blind children to get their hands on books. When Gavin is older, the NLS library has lots of braille children's books that you can check out. I think the fact that you're exposing him to reading at such a young age means that he'll enjoy reading as he gets older.

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  4. You may already know, but Seedlings Braille Books for Children has a free braille book program (Book Angel Program for V-I Children). You can sign up and receive two free braille books of your choice each year. This is the link:

    http://www.seedlings.org/special.php

    Sydney Walker
    (Mom to Graham, 7 yrs old, also affected by LCA)

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  5. Thank you everyone, and Sydney I did not know that. Great resource, thank you. I will be signing us up. ;)

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  6. Hi There,
    I really enjoyed reading through your site, and I'm definitely impressed by all your fundraising and advocacy work! I found your site while searching for info on cep290 trials. My son Angus, who is 6 has LCA because of that gene, so thanks for the info- very exciting!
    We live in Scotland, so not so close to you geographically, but I think we definitely share experiences in the day to day life of our children, as well as our hopes and expectations for their futures. I wanted to let you know that I learned braille, going down the grade 2 route, learning via distance learning from our local uni, and it was a great experience- I passed the course a few months before Angus started school, so I felt able to support him in learning literacy and numeracy, just as I had with his older sister. It's going really well so far and we are very proud of him. But you know, sighted people, and this includes VI specialist teachers, don't ever read braille by touch- our visual sense is just too overriding, and it makes no difference whatsoever to the VI learner... if you can read and write braille then that is fantastic- you don't have to do it by touch as well!
    Keep up all your great work- I've marked your site in my favourites, so I'll look forward to reading how you all get on future!
    Lots of luck, Elise

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  7. Hi Elise! Great to get a glimpse of your story, and your insight with braille. I agree with you in the learning of braille to assist your child, and congratulations to all of you for learning braille!

    I would love to follow your story, my email address is jstevens04@gmail.com if you would like to keep in touch. My heart and thoughts are with you, Angus and your entire family :)

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