Pre Braille Implementation Into Early Education

Obtaining a strong understanding of what braille is and how to use it can help an individual excel in school, work and their personal life. With rapid technological advancements, students are now turning to audio books and assistive technology to learn and complete assignments. This does not assist the retention and comprehension of braille reading and writing. Given the importance of braille writing skills for blind and partially sighted individuals (BPSI), and the connection of pre braille to kindergarten classroom learning, this research aims to introduce braille concepts and emphasize pre braille learning in the kindergarten classroom, regardless of whether students have sight or sight loss.

Pre braille: activities that work to develop fine motor skills and concept development. Motor skills such as two-handed coordination, finger mobility, dexterity and sensitivity, are explored naturally while discussing concepts such as physical weight, i.e., heavy and light.

I worked directly with kindergarten teachers and teachers of the visually impaired and responded for the following research questions:
By questioning sensory practices currently in place in the school environment,
  • What tools and/or support might teachers need to conduct greater inclusive-based lessons in the classroom?
  • How can we increase engagement in pre braille and awareness about the braille writing system?

Through co-creation with teacher participants, we created a pouch with multiple modes of tactile engagement and an activity prompt system. The system can be used alone or in conjunction with the tactile pouch. Both outputs foster inclusive teachings, engage early tactile strategies, and allow for collaboration and communication between students with sight and students with sight loss.

By introducing reading tactually, also known as braille, students will:
  • Become aware of other abilities, making the classroom a more safe and inclusive space to learn and explore.
  • Have preliminary knowledge if they need to later learn the braille writing system.
  • Have reduced stereotypes of people with other abilities.

Activity Prompt System

The proposed activity prompt system includes introductory cards of 4 in by 6 in, outlining what the system is, what’s included and how to get started. Cards of this size don’t require a lot of space. They can be stored in a drawer, on a desk or in one of the tactile pouch pockets. Following the introduction, are three 8.5 in by 11 in sheets (letter-sized paper), each listing ten prompts; ten settings, ten actions and ten outcomes. These three sheets are intended to be cut out by teachers, stacking the prompts together with a staple, bulldog clip or other fastening device. I suggest using a clip or ring, allowing ample flexibility, exploring all opportunities when mixing and matching the prompts. In addition to the three sheets, there is a card (4 in by 6 in) dedicated to demonstrating activity possibilities, matching eight settings, pre braille actions and learning outcomes. This can be referred to by teachers when planning class activities. The system takes these eight pairings one step further, with two detailed examples. The examples specify where the activity should take place, the types of materials the teacher might use, why the activity is important, and a list of steps to plan and construct. These specific examples highlight introductions to the braille writing system that might be discussed in class.

Tactile Pouch

The proposed tactile pouch holds a structured form allowing the depth for multiple books and objects to be stored. The opening of the pouch includes a toggle to pull and keep objects inside secure. The toggle is a tool that requires fine motor manipulation and finger strength. The front, in a dark denim fabric, has two yellow pockets, each with unique clasps. A zipper is placed between the pockets. It’s function is soely to practice fine motor manipulation. Inside the pouch, is a mesh pocket. The pocket holds a magnetic sheet that works in combination with magnetic stickers. A portion of the backside is lined with velcro strips. The Velcro is effective in combination with Velcro stickers. The whole pouch is washable. This was important in considering the COVID-19 pandemic and the mess that comes with play., Toronto, CA.