Friday, October 2, 2015

Common Senses



The following information appeared in an email today.  It is from a newsletter sent by the Hadley School for the Blind (www.hadley.edu).  I have completed several excellent courses from this school over the years that serves students, family members, and professionals in the field of special education.

“Effective November 1, the following HSPS courses will carry a $99.00 tuition:

Braille Teaching Methods for Children

Braille Teaching Methods for Adolescents and Adults”

When I went to the links to read the course descriptions, I found the following information:

Braille Teaching Methods for Children

“For children who are blind, literacy in braille is a significant indicator for their success later in life.”

Braille Teaching Methods for Adolescents and Adults”

“Adolescents and adults who have lost the ability to use print need help transitioning to braille. Braille literacy allows individuals to understand information and communicate with others. For example, literacy skills help with building social skills, finding work, living independently, and raising a family.”

While the Hadley School for the Blind teaches students who are legally blind or have low vision, this is not mentioned in their course descriptions.  Not only should the wording be more inclusive, but it should say that these courses are for children and adults who either cannot read print at all or who cannot read regular print (10 or 12 point fonts) efficiently.

As soon as a person experiences impaired central vision, low vision specialists teach their patients how to use devices that make print larger.  While there are now computer monitors that are 40 inches or larger that can be used to increase the size of print on a computer screen, there just comes a time when reading print becomes impractical because the tools are no longer portable and do not improve one’s reading speed.  For people with central vision loss who read using their peripheral vision, continuing to read print often causes eye strain, headaches, and inefficiency.

Rehabilitation counselors teach clients how to use audio based screen-reading software on their computers, calculators, and phones rather than software like ZOOM TEXT.  More technology is being developed with accessibility features that allow people to dictate rather than type.  Nevertheless, as I mention in the previous post, “Eye Care’s Missing Manuals,” Braille literacy is essential for anyone who has experienced any loss of central vision whether temporary or permanent, or has been given the diagnosis of a disease that has or might cause a loss of central vision. 

Common sense teaches us that we can use more than one of our senses for many things—including reading.  It is my hope and prayer that as modern medicine leaves more people with some usable sight, educators will study the best practices for merging Braille literacy into their rehabilitation and occupational therapy services.

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