National Braille Week

#NationalBrailleWeek 2021 is taking place now, from 11 -17 October, and aims to raise awareness of the importance of braille and other alternative formats that open up the written world to people with vision impairment.

Here we offer a round up of resources for professionals working with children and young people with vision impairment. 

Braille teaching and learning for education professionals

Braille literacy training for specialist VI teachers and QTVIs – VIEW/NatSIP certificate course

Developed by RNIB, the online braille literacy course for specialist VI teachers and qualified teachers of children and young people with vision impairment (QTVIs) is for those who wish to refresh their braille teaching skills. Students need to be competent in contracted English braille before joining the course, and have regular access to at least one blind child or young person who is learning or using braille.

The online course follows a structured timetable and requires about 80 hours of study plus attendance at one training day at the start. All course materials are studied online using the Moodle virtual learning environment.

Assessment includes online discussion activities on key themes, written portfolios applying course content to students’ own situations and multiple choice tests of factual knowledge.

Course content covers:

  • fundamentals of braille literacy
  • emergent reading
  • early reading
  • fluent reading
  • implementing braille literacy.

Students also select two specialist options – can choose to become more expert in braille for maths, science or modern languages, braille for late beginners, or learners with additional needs, or English as an additional language.

Tutored by QTVIs who are specialists in braille literacy, successful completion leads to an VIEW/NatSIP certificate. The cost of the course is £850 per place (£710 for VIEW members).

Apply for the next available course which begins in January 2022.

Free single unit braille literacy training for VIEW members

Current and new VIEW members can request free access to a single unit of online braille literacy training, giving you structured online learning materials and a blank portfolio to complete and take away at the end of the course. If you aren’t a member join now. Choose from: Maths, Science, Foreign languages, braille music, late beginners, learners with additional needs, learners with an additional language – individual unit descriptions are available in the application pack

Training for teaching assistants

Learning braille

  • Teachers, teaching assistants and support workers, who support individuals using braille can learn to read and write braille by doing RNIB’s distance learning course. Parents are also welcome to take the course which leads to an RNIB Certificate in Contracted Braille. The course provides tuition in how to read and write contracted Unified English braille. No prior knowledge of braille is required. Students receive all the materials and tuition needed to complete the course, plus one opportunity to take a final examination. The course takes 12 months and starts in May and October each year.
  • RNIB Cymru run a reading and writing Welsh braille course. The course is also accessible to non Welsh speakers who want to learn Welsh braille. There is also a library of Welsh books in braille and a catalogue is available on request. For more information about Welsh braille, contact RNIB Cymru on telephone 029 2045 0440 or email accessibleinfocymru@rnib.org.uk

Understanding visual impairment in children and young people course

The “Understanding visual impairment in children and young people course” is an opportunity to develop teaching assistants’ understanding of the issues affecting learners with a vision impairment. Helps professionals and parents to improve the quality of learning opportunities. You set your own pace. Delivered online. Includes assessment activities leading to an VIEW certificate. The course fee is £165 for VIEW members (£225 for non members).

Braille courses for children and young people

RNIB have a range of braille courses for VI children and young people. Download RNIB’s learning braille factsheet listing the courses and other resources to support young braille learners:

Network with colleagues supporting braillists

Teachbraillists is a UK-based email discussion group. It is for discussing all issues relating to the teaching of learners who have the most severe vision impairment and are, or are going to be, braille users. Join the Teachbraillists list to become part of this practical information-sharing forum. TheTeachBraillists forum is managed by RNIB.

Resources to support your teaching

Talking to families and young people about learning braille

Encouraging early literacy

This “Braille and your baby” interview with Debbie Siegel from Hadley School for the Blind, USA answers lots of the questions commonly asked by parents with babies and toddlers. Published by wonderbaby.org it is packed with practical steps families can take to encourage babies and toddlers to develop early literacy skills.

Paths to literacy

The Paths to literacy website, a joint project between Perkins School for the Blind and the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired offers lots of literacy strategies for students who are blind.

American Foundation for the Blind – Resources for teachers of braille

AFB’s Resources for teachers of braille webpages are packed with teaching strategies and resources.

Books from American Foundation for the Blind

Burns Braille Guide A Quick Reference to Unified English Braille, Second Edition MARY F. BURNS (AFB, 2015)

The Burns Braille Transcription Dictionary has been revamped as the Burns Braille Guide to usher in the new era of Unified English Braille (UEB). This easy-to-use reference guide includes common braille to print and print to braille conversions, as well as punctuation, new UEB contractions, and general rules and terminology. Available in paperback, e-book, and online subscription.

Beginning with Braille Firsthand Experiences with a Balanced Approach to Literacy Second Edition ANNA M. SWENSON (AFB, 2016)

This resource for educators teaching braille has been updated for using UEB. It includes new sections on general education literacy instruction, teaching the dual-media learner, adapting materials, and addressing diverse needs. Beginning with Braille also features new teaching materials, record forms, and braille activities. Available in paperback, e-book, and online subscription.

Reading Connections Strategies for Teaching Students with Visual Impairments CHERYL KAMEI-HANNAN and LEILA ANSARI RICCI (AFB, 2015)

A teacher’s guide for addressing the needs of students who read print and/ or braille with a focus on supporting those who have, or who are at risk for developing reading disabilities. Includes strategies and classroom activities. Available in paperback, e-book, and online subscription

Order from www.afb.org/store or call 00 1 800-232-3044.