Chapter Five – Learning Disabilities

In Chapter One the effect of learning disabilities on learning braille and the large percentage of blind people with learning disabilities were discussed. The better performance achieved, when people with learning disabilities used alphabetic braille was shown. We know that blind people with learning disabilities perform better with alphabetic braille. It is wrong to make them use contracted braille.

Also in Chapter One, it was shown that young blind children without any sign of learning disabilities had better performance when they used alphabetic braille first. Therefore everyone has better performance if they use alphabetic braille first and those with learning disabilities should continue to use it.


It is often difficult to remember dot numbers when learning to write letters. The following method has worked for some students with learning disabilities when other methods have failed.

(a) left hand only

Using correct fingering at all times, learn and practice the following: dot 1 by itself, dot 2 by itself, dot 3 by itself, dots 1 and 2 together, dots 2 and 3 together, dots I and 3 together, dots 1, 2 and 3 together.

Using correct fingering at all times, learn and practice the following a, b, k, 1, dot 2 by itself, dots 2 and 3 together, the words all, ball

(b) right hand only

Using correct fingering at all times learn and practice the following:

dot 4 by itself, dot 5 by itself, dot 6 by itself, dots 4 and 5 together, dots 5 and 6 together, dots 4 and 6 together, dots 4, 5 and 6 together

(c) both hands together

Using correct fingering at all times, learn and practice the following:

c is a and 4 d is a and 4, 5 e is a and 5

Write the words bake, cake, lake, back, bad, ]ad, bell, dell, deck

Write phrases bake a cake, a bad back,

Continue on with

f is b and 4

g is b and 4, 5

h is b and 5

Write the words fall, fell, fake, bag, leg, had, hall, he

Write phrases had a fall, a bad leg, he fell

Continue on with

i is 2, and 4

j is 2, and 4, 5

w is 2, and 4, 5, 6

This helps student remember that i, j and w are the only letters that use just dot 2 with

left hand.

Write the words bike, lid, like, we, wed, few, jack, jab, will, if

Write phrases we like cake, he will fall

Continue on with

m is k and 4

n is k and 4,5

o is k and 5

Write the words make, mad, came, ham, neck, cane, lane, doll, log, hog, fog, him, in, no

Write phrases a long cane, he came home, come in

Continue on with

u is k and 6

x is k and 4, 6

y is k and 4, 5, 6

z is k and 5, 6

Write the words yes, zoo, box, yell, duck, you, mix, away, any, boy, buzz, baby, buy, day, jelly, my, may

Write phrases you and me, mix a cake, a baby boy, a big box, go away

Continue on with

p is l and 4

q is l and 4, 5

r is l and 5

v is l and 6

Write the words paper, queen, quick, happy, very, up, run, ride, read, quack, play, pull, live, love, have, five, gave

Write phrases play ball, have a ride, a happy puppy, jump up, a good queen

Continue on with

s is 2, 3 and 4

t is 2, 3 and 4, 5

Write the words said, so, stay, start, some, say, skunk, sit, sneeze, to, take, tell, those, these, the, time, took, tree, turn

Write phrases read braille, swim in the pool, say hello, sit down

Now for extra practice write list of common words plus individually important words. Use words in phrases.

Now the student should be ready to write sentences – no punctuation yet – and still requiring help with the spelling of each word. Introduce capital sign, e.g. I went shopping yesterday. I like you. It is raining.

capital i (wait while student writes if help is needed still give dot numbers)

say “went” “w” (wait) “e” (wait) “n” (wait) ‘T’ (wait) “space”

Often it still involves too many thinking processes for student to remember word, spelling and writing all at once.

Next try 2 letters at a time “we” (wait) “nt” (wait) “space”

If student can handle then move ahead to 3 letter “wen” (wait) “t space.

If student can handle then move ahead to 4 letters but instructor is still spelling “went” (wait)


If student can handle then move ahead to 5 “went” “space” (wait). If this is too much for the

student to remember, go back to 4 or 3 letters at a time.

The next step is for student to write short words without assistance for spelling “write went”. Watch for signs of frustration. If student finds this too difficult gently go back to spelling words.

Auditory Perception

Refer to auditory perception in chapter for primary grades.

Follow testing and intervention suggested there.



The first step is tactual letter discrimination.

Read each writing lesson.

If more practice is required follow suggestions in primary section especially following across


b —– m —– s —– t —– k

l —— a —– g —– h —– p

and rows of letters emphasizing problem letters

n a n n g k n l n n c

short words spaced and then close

b a l l ball

g i r I girl

If student still cannot distinguish difficult letters such as n r t then help them develop other strategies. If student still cannot distinguish reversals d-f-h-j e-i etc. help them develop compensating strategies.

When student is reading words, phrases, sentences or stories spell each word orally.


Keep in mind that often spelling is the most confusing puzzle of all for learning disabled students. Remember one of the reasons in writing and in reading that we spelled each word orally was to engrave patterns of touch and sound, letters and words onto the brain.

Give student a spelling test either written or oral or one test each way. Write down exactly what student says for each word and analyse mistakes to see what kind of problem is causing errors.

An excellent program to follow for reading, writing and spelling for the learning disabled is “The Natural Way To Reading”, by Nancy Stevenson, published by Little, Brown and Company. They are willing to give permission to transcribe the book into braille, if you ask.

I have used this program successfully with students from ages 10 to 25. Except for adapting some of the writing suggestions, eliminating punctuation and starting each new sentence on a new line, the program is excellent and easy to follow. Purchasing this book, getting copyright permission, transcribing it in alphabetic braille and using it daily are the best things you can do.

To give you a better understanding of learning disabilities I recommend “The Waysiders” by R. M. N. Crosby, published by Delacorte Press, and “Helping Children Overcome Learning Difficulties” by Jerome Rosner, published by Walker and Company.