It’s National Braille Week and it’s no secret that I love braille. It might sound strange to essentially be saying I love a font, however when you consider how many blind people are denied the opportunity to learn it you start to understand. Braille has quite honestly changed my life. Numerous times on this blog I have written about the impact it has had and what I still use it for in 2017.
So instead of talking about my personal experiences with braille again I’m going to suggest some ways in which you could celebrate this national braille week. These suggestions are especially useful for introducing children to braille and will give them the opportunity to ask questions in an appropriate environment.
Suggestions for a mainly sighted class
- Ask a blind person who is a braille reader to speak about their experiences with braille. It’s great when sighted teachers educate their students about blindness, but having a blind person come and speak will make the experience more authentic.
- Have a treasure hunt using braille clues. Cards can be passed out to the students that show the braille alphabet, enabling them to figure out what the clues are saying.
- Challenge students to look for braille in their daily life. In the UK we have braille on medication packets, lift buttons and sometimes on signs. Perhaps students could look for it and write down, or take a picture when they find it.
Suggestions for a mainly blind, or mixed class
- Hold a treasure hunt using braille clues. If the class is a mix of blind and sighted students the alphabet cards could once again be used, or blind students could be paired up to assist the sighted students with reading.
- Hold a poetry slam or similar event. All participants could read their poetry in braille.
- Establish a pen pal club. Perhaps you know blind students who live in another area of the country, or even in a different country altogether. What better time than to pair students up to be pen pals than this week. I had a pen pal growing up and I am still friends with her today. The impact of being able to send and receive letters with someone else is huge.
- A braille book swap. If your students have braille books they no longer want they could bring them in and swap them with someone else. Or, if there aren’t enough students who want to swap books, perhaps you could work on creating a small library where students bring in their old books so that anyone can borrow them.
- Donate your time. This requires more effort than most of the other activities, however I believe it is really useful. If you have older students who are blind, perhaps they would like to volunteer their time to read with a younger blind student, or read to an older person who is losing their vision and may not yet have learnt braille. I actually spent time at university reading with a younger sighted student, and it was a really positive experience to be able to share my love of reading with someone who needed a little extra attention.
I hope these suggestions will help you put on some really cool events this week. And if it’s too late to plan something you could always save them for next year, or even for Disability History Month which starts on November 22nd.
How will you be celebrating this National Braille Week? Let me know in the comments.