Special Education

Materials Help Dyslexic and Blind

By Christina A. Samuels — December 01, 2008 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

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.

A version of this article appeared in the December 03, 2008 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Management Webinar
Build a Digitally Responsive Educational Organization for Effective Digital-Age Learning
Chart a guided pathway to digital agility and build support for your organization’s mission and vision through dialogue and collaboration.
Content provided by Bluum
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Drive Instruction With Mastery-Based Assessment
Deliver the right data at the right time—in the right format—and empower better decisions.
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Profession Webinar
How Does Educator Well-Being Impact Social-Emotional Awareness in Schools?
Explore how adult well-being is key to promoting healthy social-emotional behaviors for students. Get strategies to reduce teacher stress.
Content provided by International Baccalaureate

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Special Education What Do Schools Owe Students With Disabilities? Feds Plan to Update Regulations
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. Comments are open for suggested changes.
2 min read
A boy writes at a desk in a classroom.
gorodenkoff/iStock/Getty
Special Education L.A. Agrees to Do More After Failing on Special Education. Could Other Districts Be Next?
The district failed to meet the needs of students with disabilities during the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Education found.
6 min read
Conceptual image of supporting students.
Illustration by Laura Baker/Education Week (Source images: DigitalVision Vectors and iStock/Getty)
Special Education Protect Students With Disabilities as COVID Rules Ease, Education Secretary Tells Schools
Even as schools drop precautions like mask requirements, they must by law protect medically vulnerable students, a letter emphasizes.
3 min read
Image of a student holding a mask and a backpack near the entrance of a classroom.
E+
Special Education Hearing, Vision ... Autism? Proposal Would Add Screening to School-Entry Requirements
Nebraska legislators consider a first-in-the-nation mandate to assess all children for autism before the start of school.
5 min read
Image of a student working with an adult one-on-one.
mmpile/E+