Braille makes a comeback

A few decades ago, Braille was on the wane. Technology was seen as likely to replace the tactile communication method, as text-to-speech readers and recorded books, for example, offered access to classroom materials. Students at special schools for the blind moved into regular classrooms, which are rich in text, but not text that is accessible to someone who is visually impaired. Among some students, families, and educators, use of Braille was seen as a sort of failure. Among the visually impaired, about 90 percent are believed to have some functional vision. Students chose--or were pushed--to use their vision to read because it was seen as a more "normal" option. This article reports that technology, instead of marking the end of Braille, has done its share to breathe new life into the reading method. Portable devices similar to laptop computers allow blind students to type notes and read them back through a Braille display. Similar devices can render text on a computer screen into Braille, using a refreshable display. Software is cutting down on the time it takes to produce Braille reading materials for students, including textbooks.

Samuels, C.
Education Week, 27(43), 27-29.
Related Research
Content Area: 
Grade Level: 
early elementary
intermediate elementary
middle school
IDEA Disability Category: 
visual impairment
Instructional Support: 
alternate access devices and systems
multiple formats of text and notation
Output Options: 
Braille output
sound output for visual tasks
tactile graphics