Teaching Efficient Hand Movements in Braille Reading

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Teaching Efficient Hand Movements in Braille Reading. Diane P. Wormsley, Ph. D. Brenda Brodie Endowed Professor North Carolina Central University February 22, 2008. Learner Objectives. Identify the most efficient method of moving the hands in reading braille
Teaching Efficient Hand Movements in Braille Reading

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Slide 1

Teaching Efficient Hand Movements in Braille Reading

Diane P. Wormsley, Ph. D.

Brenda Brodie Endowed Professor

North Carolina Central University

February 22, 2008

Slide 2

Learner Objectives

  • Identify the most efficient method of moving the hands in reading braille

  • Identify the various braille reading characteristics and their implications

  • Indicate which pattern would be best for beginning readers

  • Understand how to teach accuracy and proper hand movements simultaneously

Slide 3

Differences between Print and Braille Reading

  • Differences in how the two media are read:

    • Mechanics – eyes vs. fingers

    • Perception – sequential vs. “all at once”

Slide 4


  • Visual: The eye does not move smoothly.

  • Tactile: Pauses are rare; fingers read through movement.

Slide 5

  • Movement:

  • Visual: No perception of words and letters occurs during movement because movement is too rapid.

  • Tactile: Perception occurs only through movement.

Slide 6

Pause Time

  • Visual: 92-98% or reading time is spent in pauses.

  • Tactile: Pause time is minimal.

Slide 7

Number of Pauses

  • Visual: As reading skills improves, the number of pauses declines.

  • Tactile: Better readers have smooth movements.

Slide 8


  • Visual: Covered three to five words (Japanese subjects.)

  • Tactile: Not relevant

Slide 9

Locations of Pauses

  • Visual: Pauses occur irrespective of meaning, grammar or rhetoric, or length of a sentence in lines.

  • Tactile: Pauses occur rarely; they are found near word intervals or at beginnings of words.

Slide 10

Functions of Pauses

  • Visual: Readers perceive during pauses.

  • Tactile: Pauses are halting points, “rallying points for understanding.”

Slide 11

Functions of “flying” movements

  • Visual: Links between pauses.

  • Tactile: Of paramount significance – perception occurs through movement.

Slide 12

Methods of Perception

  • Visual: Several letters or words are perceived all at once in pauses.

  • Tactile: Letters are perceived successively through the movement of the fingers and become grouped in perception.

Slide 13

Word Cues

  • Visual: The average reader reads sentences with the help of small cues, such as the size and shape of letters and words.

  • Tactile: The average reader uses the first and second and sometimes the third braille character in words as cues to predict or anticipate the remainder of the word.

Slide 14

Dominant and subordinate letters

  • Visual: Word recognition depends on context and letter shapes.

  • Tactile: The first three characters or letters are dominant, along with some characters that are also tactilely characteristic or peculiar

Slide 15

Sensory channel

  • Visual: Both eyes work together involuntarily; without conscious knowledge of the activity.

  • Tactile: Both hands are entirely under voluntary control, especially in the early stages of learning braille.

  • Adapted from Kusajima, T. (1974). Visual Reading and Braille Reading: An Experimental Investigation of the Physiology and Psychology of Visual and Tactual Reading. New York: American Foundation for the Blind.

Slide 16

  • i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheeearr at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if you can raed tihs forwrad it.

Slide 17

Other Differences Between Print and Braille

  • Differences in the extent of the literacy media in the environments of the readers:

    • Braille in the environment – Harry Potter is in braille!

    • Quantity of literature

    • Numbers of role models for reading/writing

Slide 18

Other Differences Between Print and Braille (cont.)

  • Differences in the ability to get cues for words from the pages of the readers (print readers have pictures to help with words).

  • Differences in the number of symbols used in the literacy medium (contracted braille) and when the students are introduced to them.

Slide 19

Other Differences Between Print and Braille (cont.)

  • Differences in redundancy in print and braille – relates to confusability of characters.

    • “The problem of confusability applies to some extent to all braille characters because they lack the redundancy of print characters, and consequently the salient features that redundant dimensions produce.” (Millar, 1997)

Slide 20

Redundancy in Print

  • It was nearing midnight and the Prime Minister was sitting in his office, reading a long memo that was slipping through his brain without leaving the slightest trace of meaning behind.

Slide 21

Redundancy in Print

  • The more he attempted to focus on the print on the page before him, the more clearly the Prime Minister could see the gloating face of one of his political opponents.

Slide 22

Redundancy in Print

  • The more he attempted to focus on the print on the page before him, the more clearly the Prime Minister could see the gloating face of one of his political opponents.

Slide 23

Redundancy in Print

Middles, ends or beginnings absent.

  • *W-at a mar- - ous oppo—nity!

  • *Lob- wen- strai--- to th- grandmoth– ‘-

  • *-obo –as so –enous –hat – e –dn’t –ait –or –ttle –ed

  • Would this hold for braille reading?

Slide 24

Redundancy in Print

  • Vowels Absent

    *-nc- -p-n – t-m- th-r- w-s – h-nds-m- ---ng w-lf n-m-d L-b-.

  • Consonants Absent

    *-o-e-i-e- a-- -o-o - -i-- -a- -i-e-e o-- -a- -e

  • Does this hold for braille reading?

Slide 25

Redundancy in Print

  • Vowels removed completely

    *Ths dmnstrts tht txt s stll mr r lss lgble whn th vwls hv bn rmvd.

    Would this hold for braille reading?

    (*examples from Weaver, C., 2002, 91-98)

Slide 26

Other Differences between Print and Braille Readers

  • in the ability to learn concepts essential for reading and writing

  • in whether family and friends use your literacy medium

  • in attitudes towards the literacy medium

  • in when a child begins to learn his/her literacy medium

  • in general cultural knowledge of the literacy medium with the population at large

Slide 27

Impact of Reading Sequentially Developing Skills of Anticipation and Prediction

  • Why is this necessary?

  • Differences between print and braille reading

  • Braille is read character by character

  • Good braille readers use context plus information from the first two or three characters of a word to anticipate what that word will be – allows for faster braille reading.

Slide 28

How do you develop this skill?

  • Provide for immersion in language.

  • Read to children/let them listen to taped storybooks.

  • When reading aloud to children, ask them to finish sentences for you.

  • Play games that provide children with information about their ability to predict.

  • Provide opportunities for vocabulary and concept development.

Slide 29

Creating Flash Cards

  • Use at least 3 x 5 inch cards.

  • Cut off top right hand corner.

  • Use dots 2-5 lead in line – space – word – space – dots 2-5 lead out line

  • Create numerous cards for same word

  • Have children who are capable make their own word cards.

Slide 30

Using Flash Cards

  • Provide as much exposure to words as possible.

  • Let students look at cards over and over again

  • Give them a stack of cards with the same word on it to look at

  • Watch for fingers numbing out

Slide 32

  • Video demonstrating various hand movement patterns and hand movement characteristics.

Slide 33

Hand movements/Mechanics

  • Patterns of hand movement usage – two handed method is most efficient and used by best (fastest) braille readers

  • Perception of braille characters is dependent upon whether braille is felt as global shape or through dot density

  • Scrubbing

Slide 34

Implications for Teaching Braille Mechanics

  • Teaching hand movements –

    • Teach the use of both hands together initially – teach lateral scanning with both hands

    • Eventually teach students to separate hands at the ends of the lines if they don’t do it automatically.

    • Teach the use of all four fingers of both hands maintaining contact on the braille line.

Slide 35

Hand movements/Mechanics (Cont.)

  • Posture/Positioning

  • Furniture Fit

  • Use of hands

    • Finger strength and dexterity

    • Hand strength and dexterity

  • Best practice – non-slip surface under braille materials and brailler

Slide 36

The Susie Video

Slide 37

Question and Answer

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