The School Braille Challenge
Looking for a unique, hands-on opportunity to challenge your students and reinforce the value of literacy in our world today? January 4th, 2009 marks the 200th birthday of Louis Braille. In honour of the occasion the Canadian Braille Authority (an organization which promotes braille literacy) is sponsoring a Braille Challenge which will enable elementary school students across Canada to learn the basics of the braille code. Free online braille tutorials will be made available. Challenge activities include tasks such as decoding secret braille messages and producing braille labels for the school environment. Participants will have a chance to win gold, silver and bronze certificates. The Braille Challenge officially begins on November 17th, 2008. For more information about upcoming bicentenary competitions and events see the Braille 200 web site at www.braille200.ca.
Follow this link for the Secret Braille Messages.
How To Get Started
- Go to http://uacoe.arizona.edu/viliteracy/braille_Lessons.htm.
- In the section entitled "Braille Lessons" you will find directions on how to download "Perky Duck" which is a software program that will allow you to produce a visual braille font which your students will use to learn the braille code.
- In this same section, you will find a link "View the Lessons" which are tutorials which your students can use to learn the braille alphabet.
- When they have learned the braille alphabet they can get started on the activities required for the Braille Challenge.
- There are fifteen activities involving braille outlined below. To earn a Bronze Certificate, students must complete four of the fifteen activities. To earn a Silver Certificate eight activities must be completed. A Gold Certificate will be awarded to any class successfully completing twelve of the activities.
- The Braille Challenge will be open through June 2009. When your students have completed the number of activities they have chosen, have your school principal, a local teacher of students with visual impairments, or a staff member of your local CNIB verify these have been completed. Contact Jen Goulden at firstname.lastname@example.org and provide her with your verification and the name and address of the school and specific class who have earned the certificate. It will be forwarded immediately.
- If your students chose an activity which requires embossed braille rather than the visual print braille, contact a local teacher of students with visual impairments or your local CNIB to request assistance with the brailling.
- Beginning in January 2009, a braille message will be placed on the Canadian Braille Authority website and the Braille 200 website. Students can decode the message and send their answers to Jen Goulden at email@example.com. She will advise the students of the accuracy of their solved message.
- There are several websites with activities involving braille which have been designed for elementary school children who are sighted. These activities are lots of fun and provide awareness of braille and the significant role it plays in the lives of braille readers. Go to the following websites to have extra fun with your students:
- Should you have further questions or encounter difficulties with any of these instructions or activities, please contact Jen Goulden.
School Braille Challenge Activities
- Make a name tag for yourself in braille.
- Name two musicians and two authors who are blind.
- Make a tactile map of your province.
- Produce in braille part or all of a menu from a local restaurant.
- Make braille labels for your school (e.g. numbers for classroom doors etc.).
- Find a hotel or office building in your area which has braille in its elevators.
- Find a hotel or office building in your area which does not have braille in its elevators and offer to provide labels.
- Create a version of your favourite board game for both print and braille users.
- Find out how Louis Braille lost his vision and how old he was when it happened.
- Produce a braille version of a children's story.
- Make a poster or banner to celebrate Louis Braille's 200th birthday.
- Make a list of at least 10 things that would be easier for a blind person to use if they were labelled in braille.
- Find out if there are any products sold in local stores which contain braille labels.
- Make a list of the different methods which can be used to produce braille.
- Complete an activity of your own choosing.