When our educators and therapists have a true passion for their field, it shows! These passionate professionals are frequently recognized at work, and occasionally encouraged to share knowledge with others. One of our phenomenal teachers of the visually impaired, Barbara T., was recently asked to do just this – share her knowledge of her field in several class presentations. Her school STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) coordinator, Jennifer D., was more than willing to share her observation of Barbara's presentation, along with student and teacher reactions.
“Barbara was asked to do four thirty-minute Braille presentations; one for each of our first- grade classrooms this past December. She began her presentation by telling the story of Louis Braille – a French educator who, from his own experience of impaired sight, created the Braille system itself.
The students loved listening to this story. Barbara was very animated and made it easy for the children to empathize with Louis. She brought a handout showing the Braille code as series of six bumps. She had the children fill in the patterns for the first portion of the alphabet. She put a copy of this on the overhead so the children could follow along and fill in the code as she taught it. Then she had them spell a few words, using the letters they had just coded in Braille.
Next, Barbara passed out several children’s books which had Braille on each page above the printed words. She showed the children how blind people use their fingers and run them over the bumps. Each student had a chance to run their fingers over the Braille portions in these books. She had the children close their eyes and pretend for a moment what it would be like to be blind. She told them that blind children are very good readers, and learn to decode Braille at a very young age using their fingertips. She also told them that although blind people don’t have their sight, their other four senses are stronger, because they use them more.
Barbara also brought a Braille printing machine. She showed the kids how the machine printed the bump sequences to form the letter codes. Each child got a chance to operate the Braille machine and print a few letters. This hands-on experience was a big highlight for the children. They loved punching the buttons and seeing the bumps imprint on the paper!
At the end of each presentation, she passed out cards with each child’s name printed in Braille for the students to take home and practice with their families.
As part of their language arts curriculum, our first-graders read a book about a blind student who uses Braille. Barbara’s presentation can truly help them understand what they will read about in that story. Even the teachers commented that they learned things about the Braille code, and about Louis Braille, that they did not know before! We’re so glad Barbara came to share her expertise with us!”
-Jennifer D., STEM Coordinator at Parkside School
Barbara also wanted to share how she started teaching visually impaired students in this district and what her experience has been like thus far:
“I’m happy that I found ProCare Therapy, or that ProCare found me! I made the decision to quit teaching in the field of visual impairments to care for my elderly parents several years ago. Since they passed away, I have been working with children, but not in the field where I had worked so hard to get my Master’s degree. When I saw a job posting [through ProCare] for a Teacher of the Visually Impaired, I decided to apply, even though I had forgotten quite a bit of my Braille. My supervisor at ProCare has been very patient and supportive as I have regained my knowledge of Braille and the visually impaired teaching field, and helped me renew my license. I am so happy to be working again in the field that I love, and where I feel my strengths and expertise lie. I love my students, and learn much more from them than they ever learn from me.”
Barbara’s heart lies in teaching, especially to visually impaired students. She has been working for ProCare for one year and counting, providing services to students at one of the school districts we partner with in Utah. She truly loves the support and opportunity she’s been given in her position, and always looks forward to work.
Inspired by Barbara, and looking for a new teaching journey? Check out our latest TVI jobs here!