Sunday, January 17, 2010

A is for Alphabet

Even with the surgeries coming up in Detroit, Colton's primary means of writing and reading will be braille. I have been taking braille courses online through Hadley School for the Blind since last year and have learned grade 1 (uncontracted) braille. I wanted to learn the braille alphabet early so that I could introduce it to Colton as soon as possible. Well, that time has come, this week we will begin a "Letter of the Week" unit in braille. Some believe it is too early (I strongly disagree) while others are very interested in getting involved in Colton's braille education. Many of our family members, friends, co-workers and blog readers have mentioned to me that they would love to learn braille, well guys, now is your chance. I will be sharing our alphabet journey with you, every Sunday, starting today! Whatever your reason may be, I hope you will take this opportunity to explore braille with Colton and I.

*In addition to the letter I will be sharing activities that you can do with your child, some may be a bit premature for Colton but I still would like to share them with you.

Here we go...



Before we begin it is important to share a little information about the braille system. Every braille character is formed within a cell, each braille cell is made up of six dots. Like this.The dots are numbered 1-6 for reference purposes. 1 through 3 on the first column, 4 through 6 on the second. In uncontracted braille, each word is spelled out letter for letter. This is what we will be learning, the alphabet in uncontracted braille. Contracted braille or grade 2 braille is similar to shorthand, one day I will be sure to do a series of blog posts on contracted braille but I will not go into any more detail on that considering I have not even begun that course at Hadley yet.

The letter a is formed using just one dot, located in dot 1 of the braille cell. It looks like thisThe shaded dot is a. The unshaded dots are just there as you are learning, so you can see where the dots are in relation to the full braille cell. For a person learning each letter with a visual impairment the shaded dot would be textured so they could feel it. It is perfectly okay for anyone with vision to learn braille through sight, it is the primary way we are accustomed to learning.

How many of you have those magnetic letters that stick on your fridge, we do but ours might be a little different than yours. Playskool makes magnetic letters and numbers with braille on them, these are great for sighted or VI children. The can introduce your child to braille and provide hours of fun.

Another great way to introduce your child to braille is through literature. The Secret Code is a book about two children, one who is blind, who discover that braille is a lot of fun.If you would like to order books that contain both print and braille, Seedlings is a great place to start. They have a lot of very popular books. For a, our letter of the week a great book to start with is Alex Alligator and His Fearsome Jaws.Be sure to practice your letter a, if you happen to see a sign in braille, take a closer look and see if you can find our letter of the week. Join us next week for the letter b.


  1. I love your posts about braille! This is a new world for me. I've done sign language before but I will look for braille a's this week!

  2. Fascinating! I will enjoy the journey learning Braille as we too use baby sign language.