Special Education

Materials Help Dyslexic and Blind

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

An education industry has grown up around providing teaching materials for students with dyslexia.

But when a student has dyslexia and is also blind, that presents an unusual challenge.

Roz Rowley, a teacher at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Mass., found herself laboring to find appropriate materials when she had a student struggling to read Braille into his teenage years.

The popular notion of dyslexia is that it is primarily a problem of letter reversal, such as confusing “b” and “d.” Though letter reversal can be a symptom, dyslexia is more broadly defined as difficulty decoding words and associating the letter and vowel sounds with letter symbols.

Braille, just like printed letters, uses symbols to represent consonant and vowel sounds. Ms. Rowley’s student couldn’t translate the pattern of raised dots into word sounds.

“He was having a terrible time,” said Ms. Rowley, who teaches secondary reading, English, Braille, and study skills at the school.

Ms. Rowley and her colleagues at the Perkins School have modified a popular phonics-based curriculum for dyslexia, the Wilson Reading System, so that it can be used with the blind and visually impaired.

The Wilson system is a highly structured, 12-step program that teaches children phonemes, or letter sounds. Ms. Rowley and her colleagues converted the system’s sound and syllable cards and worksheets into Braille.

The 150-year-old American Printing House for the Blind is reproducing the curriculum for other educators.

Edward J. Wilson, the publisher and co-founder of the reading system, has also conducted training programs for the instructors at the Perkins School. Anne Sullivan, the longtime tutor of author and activist Helen Keller, was a graduate. Ms. Keller also attended the school.

Mr. Wilson noted that he doesn’t have specific experience with education for the blind, but the work at the Perkins School has been a good partnership. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback,” he said.

Vol. 28, Issue 14, Page 17

Published in Print: December 3, 2008, as Materials Help Dyslexic and Blind
Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories





Sponsor Insights

Vocabulary Development for Striving Readers

Free Ebook: How to Implement a Coding Program in Schools

Successful Intervention Builds Student Success

Effective Ways to Support Students with Dyslexia

Stop cobbling together your EdTech

Integrate Science and ELA with Informational Text

Can self-efficacy impact growth for ELLs?

Disruptive Tech Integration for Meaningful Learning

Building Community for Social Good

5 Resources on the Power of Interoperability from Unified Edtech

New campaign for UN World Teachers Day

5 Game-Changers in Today’s Digital Learning Platforms

Hiding in Plain Sight - 7 Common Signs of Dyslexia in the Classroom

The research: Reading Benchmark Assessments

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

All Students Are Language Learners: The Imagine Learning Language Advantage™

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

How to Support All Students with Equitable Pathways

2019 K-12 Digital Content Report

3-D Learning & Assessment for K–5 Science

Climate Change, LGBTQ Issues, Politics & Race: Instructional Materials for Teaching Complex Topics

Closing the Science Achievement Gap

Evidence-based Coaching: Key Driver(s) of Scalable Improvement District-Wide

Advancing Literacy with Large Print

Research Sheds New Light on the Reading Brain

Tips for Supporting English Learners Through Personalized Approaches

Response to Intervention Centered on Student Learning

The Nonnegotiable Attributes of Effective Feedback

SEE MORE Insights >