There’s a good possibility Ruby will be a dual reader, meaning she’ll learn to read both braille and print.
When Ruby was first diagnosed with Aniridia, we were told that she would probably be able to see up to two lines down on an eye chart on her own. We also have the good fortune of living in a time when various assistive devices are available to help her. Just one example — tablets and apps that can zoom in on text.
For those times when her eyes get tired, or if it’s too bright, or if her vision deteriorates somewhat over the years, knowing how to read braille will be a useful skill that will help her stay on track.
Ruby is only 9 months old. I don’t expect her to be reading a book any time soon, but hey, she’s surprised us before… 😉 That said, learning how to read isn’t a switch that’s just flipped on one day. It’s an ongoing process that’s already started, and there are ways we can help prepare her to be a strong reader today. Learning braille is one of them.
Sighted people learn braille by recognizing the letters visually. It’s very unlikely that I’ll develop the ability to read quickly with just my fingers, but I’ll still be able to help her learn the alphabet by recognizing the letters as she feels them.
A great free resource for families and caregivers of those with visual impairment is through Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Right now I’m enrolled in the course “Braille and your baby or toddler“. Not only is it helping me learn the alphabet, it’s also providing guidance on how to create a braille-rich environment that will encourage communication development.
If you’re interested in taking the free course for families and caregivers, you can enrol here.