Sophie is learning braille. She loves books and is proud of her developing skill. And although she isn’t “the only person in the world that knows braille” as she would tell you, she is learning from the best.
This is Sophie’s story.
Sophie is 6 years old and is in her first year of big school. She isn’t letting her low vision get in the way of reading her favourite books, including ‘Magic Beach’ and ‘Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley’.
Sophie has dedicated individuals guiding her to success, including her parents and several staff at St Joseph’s Primary School. Classroom Support Teacher Jackie is one such person, who regularly works directly with Sophie – “Her sensitivity to braille has improved significantly”.
St Joseph’s Primary is a fine example of a school promoting inclusion. Recently, Sophie read a piece of braille to the school assembly. Later, her Kindy class were lucky enough to have their names printed in braille. “The school have been amazing” says mum, Lisa, “I couldn’t ask for better support for Sophie, she has been so motivated to learn since starting school this year”. Although Sophie is the first student at the school to learn braille, the success means she is unlikely to be the last.
Although not having knowledge of braille beforehand, Jackie supports Sophie in and out of the classroom whilst developing her own braille knowledge via UEB Online, a platform for sighted readers to learn the braille code (https://uebonline.org/). She also attended a Continuing Professional Education (CPE) course at the RIDBC Renwick Centre which provided a strong foundation for their strategy and plans for Sophie.
Jackie is delighted the school have created an effective way for Sophie to learn and is clear about how to move forward – “for us it is about how we incorporate Sophie’s developing braille skill in the classroom and how we can best utilise technology” she says.
Mum couldn’t be prouder “she was reading braille contractions earlier than some kids were learning printed words” says Lisa.
Sophie’s enthusiasm for reading isn’t limited to the classroom, she loves to read at home too, the audience usually consisting of her brothers or grandparents. “She just loves it, she talks about it all the time” says Lisa.
Outside of reading, Sophie’s imagination runs wild as she plays with her toys, rides her bike, swims, and plays her favourite sport – hockey. Lisa explains “our lives in winter revolve around hockey, her brothers play it and she loves it too”.
RIDBC Remote Services (formerly Teleschool) supports Sophie via weekly individual sessions, facilitated by RIDBC Vision Consultant, Cathie. “Sophie is progressing very well, due in no small part to the excellent support network we have with her, her family and the team at her school” says Cathie.
Sophie is one of the first students to be learning braille using dAp Dots, a set of resources from RIDBC. Lisa can see others too, will benefit – “I can see the resource being extremely effective for parents who don’t know the braille code, it has helped us” says Lisa.
dAp Dots is a set of resources that allow parents/guardians to learn the braille code simultaneously with their braille reading children. Content intended for sighted parents/guardians is printed in different colours and will not be raised and felt by anyone reading the braille sections. It is named after its creator, Tricia d’Apice, a Senior Consultant and Teacher of Vision Impairment at RIDBC.
Hard work and commitment have led to positive outcomes for Sophie as she navigates her first year of school with her friends. When she grows up, she wants to travel to space so she can see Earth from afar. For now, it is learning braille that is opening Sophie’s world.
For more information about dAp Dots, including how to purchase the braille resources for young readers, click here.