Pop-Up IEP

15. "We don’t feel your child needs braille."

Why is this statement problematic?

Sometimes parents are told that braille is not appropriate for the child because the child has enough vision to read print, has a cognitive disability, or has not yet acquired enough reading readiness skills. But by law, every child who is blind or visually impaired is entitled to learn braille if braille is needed at the present time or might be needed in the future. Learning to read in braille is no more or less difficult to learn than learning to read in print. Learning braille will be undertaken with the same excitement and interest that children might have for any other subject or skill when braille is presented in a positive light, the teaching methods are engaging and appropriate, instruction is consistent, and children are taught to pair their remaining vision with their sense of touch. Choosing braille does not mean rejecting the use of print. It is entirely feasible for a child with partial sight to use both media. Braille is a literacy tool, whether it is used exclusively or along with print.

Possible Responses for Parents/Advocates

  1. “We’ve been doing some reading about the impact of early braille instruction on later literacy and employment rates*. It seems that partially sighted children who had intensive, early braille instruction had significantly higher literacy skills and employment rates as adults. We believe that the advantages of early braille instruction far outweigh the disadvantages. Besides, we’ve been reading from print/braille books with our daughter, and she loves the idea of reading with her fingers and looking at the pictures with her eyes.”
  2. “We have a brochure from the National Agenda* which describes the legal requirements for providing braille instruction to children with visual impairments. As we understand it, the IEP team must provide braille instruction unless an evaluation indicates that braille is not needed now and won’t be needed or in the future. Since learning braille can have such a profound impact on our daughter’s quality of life, let’s make sure we have all the facts before we make the decision.”

*The National Agenda for Children and Youths with Visual Impairment, Including Those with Multiple Disabilities (http://www.tsbvi.edu/agenda/national-ppt.htm)

Steinman, B.A., LeJeune, B.J., & Kimbrough, B. T., (2006). Developmental stages of reading processes in children who are blind and sighted. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 100(1), 36-46.

Ryles, R. (1996). The impact of braille reading skills on employment, income, education, and reading habits. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 90(3), 219-226.

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