The ultimate goal for a braille reader is fluency. Fluency means the child reads smoothly and at a reasonable rate while comprehending what she is reading. Specifically for braille readers, fluency is demonstrated by decoding automatically, or without having to pause to think –most often characterized by efficient hand movements– and the student’s ability to comprehend what she is reading. Put another way, fluency means reading effortlessly.

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How do you teach a braille reader to read effortlessly?

At some time you were probably told that braille readers achieve fluency later than print readers for one reason or another like, “Braille is hard.” But more likely, it’s a combination of many things. A common reason is simply the child’s lack of interest in reading, which is potentially the result of another combination of things unique to the child.

But how do you get to “effortlessly” when your child hasn’t even learned the UEB contractions? And how can you get your braille reader excited about reading? Well, it isn’t always easy and it will probably take some time, perhaps even a little bribery (it’s okay!) to get it jumpstarted… but fluent braille reading is possible.

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Make Reading Braille More Fun Today!

  1. Read books that your child will find interesting. Think about the topics he likes most and choose related titles. Similarly, pick books that tell stories with favorite characters. Or, compile a list of interesting books and give your child the choice of which book he’ll read next.
  2. Have a designated reading nook in a quiet room. This way your child doesn’t have the opportunity to be distracted by noise. It’s especially appropriate for kids with sensory processing challenges. Make it comfortable and always ready to go so your child can pick up a book at a moment’s notice. Keep books easily accessible in the area so your child can find them independently.
braille books on shelves above the side of a bed. two large pictures hang above them.
  1. Have your child read to a stuffed animal or pet. It can help ease the stress of struggling readers such as worrying about getting stuck on a word. An animal can also be fun to help her use her imagination and get lost in the story with her favorite sidekick. Some libraries offer times when children can come read to therapy animals as well. Check it out in your community!
  2. Get the wiggles out with a short burst of exercise first. Kids with lots of energy will really benefit from a few minutes of dancing, a short walk, or yoga before sitting down to read. Don’t do so much that he’s too tired to read of course!
  3. Read with a snack. Who says you can’t eat while you read? Food is fun and it can make reading time fun too. Just choose your snacks wisely. Don’t give out anything messy and keep some hand wipes near by for easy cleanup. Keep those braille reading fingers clean so your books stay nice, also.
  4. Offer incentives for extra motivation. Choose rewards that will be fun for the child. Consider little tokens like tactile stickers or a few extra minutes of iPad time. The most important thing is that it is something the child will actually want to work for. Try using a tactile reward chart for tracking each day she reads or finishes a book.
  5. Host a reading contest. It can be done at home or school. Family members or classmates can set a goal to read as many books as possible in a certain period, or each person can set their own goal for a number of books to read or time spent reading. If competition instead makes reading more stressful, the result doesn’t have to be a winner. Instead, try one of the incentives mentioned in Number 6 for each child or the group as a whole!
  6. blue kid's timer with light and soundUse a timer. Struggling readers may be anxious about how long it’s going to take to finish a book. Instead, try setting a timer for a number of minutes and stop when the timer goes off- even if he’s not at the end of the book. If that’s the case, then you could finish reading the book aloud to him for some quality time together. A timer is an extremely good idea for kids with executive function challenges who like to have a known schedule or have trouble with transitions.
  7. Develop a “Getting Ready to Read” Routine. Whether it’s a battle to just get started or your child has trouble with transitions, coming up with a simple routine can be helpful. It can be a combination of preparing the ideas above, i.e. Settle in the reading nook, choose a book, set the timer, and read, or it may be something else your child needs to prepare. This is another valuable tip for kids who struggle with executive functioning.
  8. Skip a day. Reading every day is undoubtedly beneficial to growing children and well, everyone. But missing a day here and there isn’t going to be the end of the world. Don’t stress if your schedule just doesn’t work out as planned. Maybe even try adding a “skip day” to your schedule if that helps.

The ultimate goal for reading may be fluency, but at the end of the day, what you really want is for your child to enjoy reading. Literacy opens a vast number of doors for blind children by giving them more independence, widening their imaginations and gaining many life skills they need to succeed. Good Luck! You’ll have a fluent braille reader before you know it!

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Additional Notes

The book shown in the feature image is the Tactile Landmarks book from National Braille Press. Be sure to check out their Great Expectations Program while you’re there!

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10 strategies to engage a reluctant braille reader infographic list