Inspiring, nurturing and empowering young people with a vision impairment.

Remote Braille Lessons

At NCW, learning Braille remains a vital part of what we do, empowering our students and giving them every possible opportunity to become independent adults in a modern world.

Since March, Braille lessons are being run online. We caught up with Miss Potter to find out how lessons have been going. 

“In all my years as a braille tutor (and that’s a good few), attempting to teach over the internet on a daily basis has to be the weirdest and most difficult challenge I have faced, especially since we had to shut the college quickly and there was very little time to prepare. Not all students have braillers, nor do they all have good space in which to work. Add to that, I am vision-impaired as well as them which means that while some of my colleagues are reading braille by means of photographs, this is not an option for me! So, what do we do?

Inevitably, my students are at different stages in their braille learning. For those who are practising reading skills having learned the braille literary code, they can either read from hard copy or from their Orbit 20 reader if they have one, and I can follow on my Orbit. Those still in the process of learning have taken books home or been sent work sheets which we can read together and continue with learning.

Writing – and checking this – is more problematic. If a student has an Orbit reader, they can write on their machine and then in most cases they can (when taught how to) send their file to me by email, I can mark and correct it and send it back to them. If a student writes on a Perkins we have to adopt a more laborious method of checking by description. Although students remember dot patterns in all sorts of ways, I always teach the numbering system – which is proving most useful now. If I want to check whether or not a student has a letter or sign correct I will ask them to tell me the dot numbers.

Braille lessons, although not “normal” by any means, are still happening in Lockdown, and whilst we may have to slow the pace, we do not have to neglect braille by any means.”

S. J. Potter
2 June 2020

Student Rahel uses an Orbit to take notes during a Braille lesson with Miss Potter.

The Orbit Reader 20, as a stand-alone device, can read content stored on an SD card that simply inserts into the back of the unit. Students are able to prepare and download pre-translated materials as brf, brl or txt files and transfer them to the SD card provided. The device uses any braille code, in any language and of any genre including music, maths, or a favourite book.

Fingers using Braille
Listen to Year 13 student Max, as he practises reading Braille during his virtual lesson.
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