Tipsy Tuesday – Creating Literacy Skills Kits to Target the Expanded Core Curriculum

I believe this is the perfect way to start off my Tuesday, and so I must share it with you.  No, it’s not the tipsy you’re probably thinking of.

Tuesdays on Blind Mom in the Burbs are now for Tricks and Tips for success in making life just a tad bit more easier for blind moms and dads, blind students, teachers of the blind, the newly blind, and even the sighted.

While checking the time on my phone first thing this morning before my alarm went off, I notice a message from a fellow blind mom.   This is too good to keep to myself, So… here you go!

If you are a parent of a blind child or a teacher of the visually impaired then you absolutely need to check this out.

Click here to learn about how you can creat literacy skills kits to target the expanded core curriculum

bag of goodies

I hope you all have a terrific Tuesday!


Happy Birthday Louis Braille

Happy Birthday Louis Braille

Six dots. Six bumps. Six bumps in different patterns, like constellations, spreading out over the page. What are they? Numbers, letters, words. Who made this code? None other than Louis Braille, a French 12-year-old, who was also blind. And his work changed the world of reading and writing, forever.

Louis was from a small town called Coupvray, near Paris—he was born on January 4 in 1809. Louis became blind by accident, when he was 3 years old. Deep in his Dad’s harness workshop, Louis tried to be like his Dad, but it went very wrong; he grabbed an awl, a sharp tool for making holes, and the tool slid and hurt his eye. The wound got infected, and the infection spread, and soon, Louis was blind in both eyes.
All of a sudden, Louis needed a new way to learn. He stayed at his old school for two more years, but he couldn’t learn everything just by listening. Things were looking up when Louis got a scholarship to the Royal Institution for Blind Youth in Paris, when he was 10. But even there, most of the teachers just talked at the students. The library had 14 huge books with raised letters that were very hard to read. Louis was impatient.
Then in 1821, a former soldier named Charles Barbier visited the school. Barbier shared his invention called “night writing,” a code of 12 raised dots that let soldiers share top-secret information on the battlefield without even having to speak. Unfortunately, the code was too hard for the soldiers, but not for 12-year-old Louis!
Louis trimmed Barbier’s 12 dots into 6, ironed out the system by the time he was 15, then published the first-ever braille book in 1829. But did he stop there? No way! In 1837, he added symbols for math and music. But since the public was skeptical, blind students had to study braille on their own. Even at the Royal Institution, where Louis taught after he graduated, braille wasn’t taught until after his death. Braille began to spread worldwide in 1868, when a group of British men, now known as the Royal National Institute for the Blind, took up the cause.
Now practically every country in the world uses braille. Braille books have double-sided pages, which saves a lot of space. Braille signs help blind people get around in public spaces. And, most important, blind people can communicate independently, without needing print.
Louis proved that if you have the motivation, you can do incredible things.   This bio was taken directly from the American Foundation for the Blind 

A Tribute to Braille, Literacy, and Jerry Whittle


Last Thursday, I spoke to a man who has impacted thousands of blind people.  He was the man who taught me Braille.  From day one, when the doors opened, he was there at the Louisiana Center for the Blind.  This man’s name is Jerry Whittle.

For almost 35 years, Mr.Whittle was on the front lines combatting  the staggering statistics of literacy amongst the blind from a corner classroom on the second floor of a French style building on South Trenton St, in a small town in North Central Louisiana.

Picture a society where only 10% of children are taught to read.

Now, picture a society where 75% of working capable adults are unemployed.

What right minded person would allow such a thing?

Well… Newsflash!  You are living in that society.

10% of blind children are being taught Braille.  75% of blind adults are unemployed.  Let me also add, 90% of the blind who are employed are Braille literate.

When I stepped into Mr. Whittle’s classroom in January of 2006, I barely knew the Braille alphabet.  I was a few months shy of turning 23.  I was no longer succeeding in my mantra of, “Fake it till you make it.”  Nine months later, I was timed at reading over 90 words per minute.  For someone learning Braille as an adult, it is rare to reach even the speed of 60 words per minute.

To you, Mr. Whittle, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for granting me the gift of literacy.

I now fight the same fight for my Marley.  Here is a photo of Marley writing a letter to Santa in Braille on her Perkins Brailler.  


After his many years of writing plays for the NFB National Conventions, that even yours truly just so happens to have had a chance to star in once upon a time, he now spends his time writing novels.  You can find his works on Amazon.  If you are looking for a Christmas gift for the bookworm in your life, than you should check out on of Mr. Whittle’s works.

Until I blog again, make it a great day.


If Only I Had Braille When…

If only I had Braille when…I was a child learning how to read.

If only I had Braille when…my classes took turns reading out loud and I was skipped over because I couldn’t even read the large print books that the schools provided me.

If only I had Braille when…the waiter handed me the menu when I sat down with my friends at a restaurant.

If only I had Braille when…my kids asked me to read the signs on the trails where we were hiking.

If only I had Braille when…my son had a 102 degree fever and I had a brand new box of medicine and didn’t know the correct dosage to give him.

If only I had Braille when…I was reading the directions on the box of blueberry muffin mix.

If only I had Braille when…I wanted to read a nutrition label on a granola bar wrapper.

If only I had Braille when…my kids find a new book and want me to read it to them.

If only I had been offered Braille as a child instead of fighting to learn it as an adult.

If only Braille was as common as print.

If only all blind or visually impaired children were taught Braille so they wouldn’t have to struggle to read as adults.

Braille is something that I am very passionate about.  Tonight as I was reading my children their bedtime stories, I started thinking, “If only I had Braille when…”

Did you know that only 10% of blind or visually impaired children are taught Braille?

Did you know that as a child I struggle to read large print, falling behind in school, and working twice as hard as my peers to keep up?

Did you know that I didn’t fully become literate until the age of 23 when I finally learned Braille?

What if only 10% of sighted children were taught how to read.

I have to admit, I haven’t thought about these things quite as much in the last few years.  However, now that I am teaching my own daughter how to read and write, and now that I am personally transcribing many of the books that are on their bookshelves into Braille so that I can read to them because it is faster than waiting for new Braille/print books.  As a child, I used to wish that I could be either completely sighted or completely blind so that I wouldn’t have to be stuck in the middle, always having to explain my so called disability.

Now all I wish for is for more Braille.

More Braille for blind children learning how to read.

More Braille for blind adults all over the world.

More Braille.  More Braille.  More Braille.