The gift of literacy is one of the most valuable things we can give to our children. Reading stimulates the mind, arouses imagination, and gives children a hobby they can enjoy for a lifetime. Thanks to the invention of Braille, visually impaired children can enjoy this pastime too. If your child is visually impaired, here are some steps you can take to familiarize yourself with Braille so you can help your child learn and navigate the world at the same pace as his or her peers.
A good Braille instruction book should be full of practical exercises and examples that are easily understood by both you and your child. Just Enough to Know Better: A Braille Primer by Eileen Curran is a good place to start, but talk to your optometrist about other resources available.
The CNIB, a charity that supports those with visual impairments, and other organizations either offer, or can refer you to, free or low-cost Braille courses in your community. The CNIB also offers a number of free resources and programs for both parents of visually impaired children and the children themselves.
To learn something, especially a new language, it helps to be surrounded by it at all times. You can find Braille label makers online for about $50. Braille writers - a Braille typewriter - tend to cost much more, but your optometrist, school district, or the CNIB may be able to provide one to you at a reduced cost. Use the writer or label maker to label items in your home. This allows you to immerse yourself in the language, and allows your child to become accustomed to having Braille around as a normal part of their life and development.
Braille is all around us: at the bank, in elevators, even on our money. Make a habit to point it out to your child when noticed in public places; encourage them to experience it in settings outside the classroom or the house. There are a variety of products that have Braille on them today that many people don’t realize; these items include products you might find at your local pharmacy (for example, some bandage brands) as well as McDonald’s cup lids (they say “other” and “diet”). Food storage brands have also been known to include measurements in Braille on the bottom of the box or canister. Many restaurants have a dedicated Braille menu: ask your server to see if your favourite restaurant carries one. Online novelty shops also have a wide variety of gifts and personal items that incorporate Braille such as mugs, t-shirts, hats, and jewelry boxes. Finally, don’t forget about your local library! The more you can integrate your child into the greater world around them, the more comfortable they will be while learning Braille.
The optometrists at FYidoctors can help you during this time by answering your questions and connecting you to the resources you need in order to set your child, and family up for success when learning Braille. Book your appointment today.