Post date: 
Monday, 14 September 2015
Child reading braille

Cheryl Evans describes how a braille buddies club is supporting young learners in Cardiff

Being the only braille learner or user in a mainstream primary school can be a little daunting at first and often feels a bit of a lonely task. So to address this challenge we have started a Braille Buddies Club in Cardiff.
We meet every half term for an afternoon. A different QTVI (qualified teacher of children with vision impairment) leads the  Braille Buddies Club each time. Five students and their learning support assistants come meet for an afternoon of chatting, completing some fun braille activities and refreshments.

Benefits for children and support assistants

The Club has lots of positives! The children meet others who are learning Braille and can chat about their work, their experiences and what they have learnt. They also work in pairs or as a group to complete activities, which is great for the development of social skills.
It also means that the learning support assistants, some of whom are new to braille, can chat to other adults supporting braille learners. They have formed a close professional network, supporting each other in their roles, reducing the isolation that they sometimes feel.

What fun activities do we do?

So far we have organised:
  • braille treasure hunts
  • making braille greetings cards
  • practising our reading and writing skills
  • made braille cookies!
Even though children are at different stages of learning braille, they really work together to help each other and to complete activities, which is an enormous boost for their self esteem and promotes teamwork.

What do the children think of their club?

We asked our Braille Buddies what they thought of the club and their responses are all positive! As one young learner puts it: “We are learning braille. I meet lots of friends and enjoy it!”
Another comment: “Other children should have a Braille Buddies Club, because it helps them meet other people who are learning braille too. And my TA [teaching assistant] says it's an afternoon off school!”

Support for parents and professionals

Cardiff Visual Impairment Team also runs a weekly Braille Club for learning support assistants, parents and teachers. They come together to learn braille, either to support their own children or children that they work with.
• Cheryl Evans is a QTVI at Cardiff Achievement Service. Our thanks to Gwyn McCormack, Director of Positive Eye for sharing this article with Insight.



Have your say

What support is available to braille learners and braille supporters in your area? Get in touch with the Insight team to share your story.
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