Bringing Braille to School
Our secondary Education Assistants are an amazing group of educators, working to assist students to reach their full potential. Yvonne Burton is one of our Education Assistants who has a special talent for braille and supports visually impaired students in accessing their full range of learning materials in the classroom.
By providing resources such as these we ensure all students regardless of learning requirements are not at a disadvantage, and we as educators are able to provide them a sense of inclusiveness within the classroom
Yvonne learnt this skill many years ago and now works closely with visually impaired students to convert their learning materials and enable them to access work at the same time as their peers.
These include materials such as worksheets, booklets, and tests. Diagrams and images also require modification with the student receiving a description of the visual component or a tactile version of a graph or chart, through a program called the Duxbury Braille Translator.
A braille ‘cell’ is made up of six dots, like a domino, with each letter using a different pattern. When converting a document to braille, only six keys on the keyboard are used to transcribe. The s, d, f, j, k, and l keys correspond to one of the six dots in the braille cell. While the program offers automatic transcription, like all translation programs, it is not always correct – this feature is mainly used when a document needs to be converted last minute.
“In these circumstances, I still make sure to check every line of braille so that the student is not at a disadvantage,” Yvonne said.
“Once converted to braille, I then use the embosser to create a hard copy of the translation on paper for my student.”
Another tool vision-impaired students may use, is a Polaris device, a small computer with braille keys. The student uses this to type up their work, which is
copied to a USB and automatically transcribed to print once opened by the teacher. Once marked, the edited
document can be uploaded to Polaris which is then transcribed back to braille for the student.
While Yvonne converts some materials for her students, she highlighted the importance of organisations such
as the Education Department’s School of Special Education Needs: Sensory. Organisations such as these provide larger materials such as textbooks in braille, ensuring students with sensory impairments aren’t disadvantaged.