University of Edinburgh

First Steps to Teaching Braille

Presented on Thursday & Friday, 30 September and 1 October 2010

Elaine Brackenridge
Depute Head Teacher, Royal blind School


  • When do you introduce Braille?
  • When do you first introduce print?
    A child should be exposed to Braille books at the same stage as a child would be introduced to printed books.
  • Exposure to different tactile surfaces is essential.

Do we wait until a child has acquired language to a certain standard before introducing Braille?

Take the risk and go for it!

Children don’t have all of our reservations, reasoning. They generally accept what is 'given' to them.

Introducing Braille should be as natural for the child as introducing print. Work with parents to allay their fears and help them to source a wide variety of Braille and tactile books.

VI teachers are not always confident but remember, you have much more to offer then you think.

There are various resources to help, however, you are the main resource.

Story sacks, story boxes, exposure to real objects from stories, ensure wide variety of experiences helps children build concepts and ideas about the word around them.

Labels on various objects, furniture, doors etc.

Pre-Braille Assessment

  • Ready to Read
  • Tracking sheets
  • Tactile pictures relating to real objects
  • Check gross and fine motor skills
  • Don't make assumptions
  • Offer opportunities

The Big Question?

Grade 1 or Grade 2? (New Changes to terminology)

  • Frustration!!
  • Pupils are individuals - listen to them.
  • Children will not go where a teacher wants to go if they are not able to.
  • Try not to focus on the end product, stay in the moment.

Perkins Braille writer

  • Imperative that Brailling does not become the main focus.
  • Achieving a balance is not always easy but so important.
  • Unlike the sighted pupil who cannot write accurately without reading/looking, the blind pupil can 'write' to the highest standard and never be able to read!

Are you up for the challenge?