I’m Not Pulling This Second-Grader out of Class Anymore

12 Sep
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Sheena works as the Outreach Specialist for the Institute on Blindness, teaching braille and cane travel as a contractor for several school systems in Northern Louisiana.

This summer at the AER International Conference, our team from Louisiana Tech University showed teachers of blind students how to move a first-grade student through the braille code in one year. The student with whom I developed this technique last year is now in second grade, is spending 100 percent of her day in the regular ed classroom and has access to every classroom resource (books, worksheets, posters, and slides) in braille!

The teachers are motivated and intrigued by her motivation and willingness to learn using braille. She has reached the point where she’s even beginning to think about how to translate the assignments that the rest of the class is using into braille.

One day, her teacher passed out composition notebooks for the students to use as journals in their daily writing. Allonah expressed that she wanted to do what everyone else was doing and in the same way! A binder wouldn’t suffice, for everyone else had a composition notebook. Her para, classroom teacher, and I (her braille teacher) gave her a composition notebook into which we’d glue her braille assignments. As she finishes each assignment, Allonah’s true excitement comes when the assignment is glued into the notebook!

Allonah is eager to learn and share what she knows with her classmates. I led a short information session with her homeroom class about blindness and the tools that Allonah uses. The students were interested and one classmate—who sits across from her—even told me he could read braille!

We, her teachers, have to convert every assignment, as the curriculum is entirely print-based. Allonah, however, is keeping up with her peers, both inside and outside the classroom. At the end of the day, it’s an indescribable feeling to watch a kid go from no access to full access.

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Sheena works as the Outreach Specialist for the Institute on Blindness, teaching braille and cane travel as a contractor for several school systems in Northern Louisiana.

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