Let’s talk Braille and our CVI kids

Up here in the sunny state, we have been super busy on the campaign trail raising awareness for Braille House – a not-for-profit organization who provide access to reading material in Braille in the form of a library service. We borrow hundreds of books from Braille House, with Eva’s latest obsession being all things Harry Potter (she is up to Deathly Hallows, the last book!). Have you seen a Braille version of Harry Potter compared to a print version? Take a look below!

An image of the print book of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and the Braille version behind it, comprising of 11 volumes.
An image of the book Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince in Print and Braille

Eva was invited by Braille House to record a radio ad to kick start their campaign on the Sunshine Coast, and so far, it has had great success with many of our friends and family telling Eva she is in the car with them on their daily commute!

Take a listen to Eva’s radio ad here

The campaign went one step further when we were then invited to speak on ‘A Current Affair’. We had an exciting morning with film crews interviewing us and Eva showcasing her reading and braille writing skills. The episode aired just a week ago and it has gained an incredible amount of traction which is exciting – I am working towards something which will hopefully make a difference to all braille readers so stay tuned!

Our A Current Affair episode can be seen here (click on image below)

An image of Eva reading a braille book whilst sitting on a cushion

We were also then lucky enough to be interviewed by ABC Brisbane Radio, where Eva had a chat about what braille means to her.

With visual intervention, our CVI kiddos have the ability to improve their vision; however, the reality is that some children will find reading print tiresome; using vision requires an incredible amount of brain power and this is where Braille can help. The Australian school curriculum demands a high level of reading and writing and being able to use print and braille (this is called a Dual Media User), or using Braille all the time, allows our CVI kids to complete their schoolwork efficiently and keep up with their peers. Research has shown that Braille readers have a higher success in employment and higher levels of general well-being (World Blind Union).

Our personal journey with Braille was a no-brainer, we wanted Eva to join a mainstream school and by some stroke of luck, our local public school just happened to have had several children with a vision impairment attend, and therefore have quite a few braille resources handy, as well as teachers who can read and teach braille. We made the conscious decision that because Eva was emotionally and academically ready to start school at age 5, she would start as a braille user. Within our first term, Eva had learnt the braille alphabet and was recognizing her name in braille. This was a sign that braille was for her. For 1-2 years prior to this, Eva was able to recognize letters on an iPad (see my post on Ebenezer apps), but as she was picking up braille much quicker, we knew that braille was the right way to go for her. We are still teaching her print, working on writing, and reading, but braille is opening her world up to books, education and being able to socialize with her peers when they chat about Harry Potter.

I have been told by several specialists that a child with CVI reading braille is unheard of, and each parent will have their own journey; ours includes braille. Our long-term goal is that Eva may become a dual-media user, but that will depend on her drive to learn print as well. This is her journey and we are guiding her as best we can, but we will not force her to learn print if she is more comfortable learning braille. Currently her drive to learn print is because she wants to be like her friends, and that’s fine! We will continue to support both until she tells us otherwise…and to be completely frank, as a parent of a child who has lost their vision, it has taken me a very long time to accept this, but we are finally here.

I would love to hear if you are using braille, have been thinking about it, or have no idea where to start! Send us an email or post in our community page.

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