Anders Rönnbäck and Kia Johansson, advisors at The Swedish National Agency of Special Needs Education and Schools

Developing decoding skills and fluency in braille reading

In this session you will learn how to strengthen tactile decoding by using a certain training program. How you as a teacher can use this program to change students reading behavior and attitude.

The principle of decoding is based on the association between a sound and an alphabetical character. For a sighted child the shapes of letters are learned long before school starts in both spontaneous and structured reading and writing activities. A child with blindness however meets tactile characters to a very limited extent and needs to be compensated for the lack of corresponding stimulation.

A couple of years ago a Swedish study was performed with the purpose to examine the possibility to strengthen tactile decoding by using a special training program. The training program used was originally developed for sighted students with reading and writing difficulties. Basic ideas are focus on decoding, a simple structure and clear documentation of the student's reading development. Characteristics of the training program are high intensity and a touch of competition during reading sessions. All sessions consist of six elements; two versions of single letters, two-letter-combinations and single words and each student should leave these sessions with a feeling of having succeeded.

Results showed that reading speed and accuracy improved to an extent that is likely to exceed the expected development of a child’s reading performance. But even more interesting was the teachers’ opinions of changes in their students’ reading behavior and attitude.

Handout file (opens in new window, word)

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