Suggested order of consonants in a braille phonics program
b m p
l f n c k d r v
g h s j t y x
q w z
Items considered for list order:
a) ease of braille tactual legibility
b) ease of braille writing
c) number of common words beginning with letter
d) name of letter indicates sound of letter
e) ease of pronouncing sound
f) number of different sounds the letter makes at the beginning of words and/or does letter combine with other letters to produce a different sound
a) Some braille letters are easier to recognize tactually than other braille letters. If you are sighted the only way you can appreciate this is to blindfold yourself and force yourself to read tactually – yes with your finger and no peeking. Do it for half an hour. It will be the best benefit of time you have ever spent to increase your understanding of the learning of braille. Everyone who teaches braille should learn to read braille with the fingers.
b, c, l, g, k, m, p, v, and x are usually easily recognized.
n, t, r, and w are more difficult to accurately identify tactually.
b) Some letters are easier to write than others. It is essential that the correct fingering be used when learning to write. If the young child’s hands are too small or the fingers too weak get an alternative to the brailler. Use a braille’n speak – the keys require only a light touch; use extension keys on the brailler – they require less pressure; use an electric brailler, use a computer keyboard adapted for braille. See recommendations in chapter concerning learning disabilities if child has trouble remembering dot numbers for writing letters.
a, b, c, l, g, and p are usually easier to write
h, i, n, o, s, and w are usually more difficult.
c) There are more common words beginning with some letters than with other letters. In braille you see the first letter of a word before you see anything else. The first letter is the most important. If you will use the first letter and its sound a lot, that will reinforce the name, sound, feel and uses of it.
There are not many common words beginning with z, x, v, q, j, or k.
There are lots of common words beginning with s, h, w, b, f, m, and t.
d) Does name of letter indicate sound of letter?
b, d, p, t, v, j, k, and z yes – through initial sound of letter name
f, l, m, n, s, x, and r – yes through final sound of letter name
c and g – partly – only one sound letter makes is in letter name
h, q, w, and y – no
e) Some sounds are easier for a young child to enunciate.
If a child has difficulty saying the sound, accurate phonics skills are hard to establish. This is often an individual problem. Sounds that are easier for the child to say should be used early if possible.
b, m, and p are usually easily enunciated.
l and r are usually more difficult.
f) Some letters always make the same sound and are easily reinforced. The letter b makes only one sound b. Other letters make different sounds depending on what letters follow them in words. The braille reader must delay decisions for these letters until all the information is in. For example the letter c has an s sound if followed by letter e,i or y; a ch, sh or k sound if followed by h; a k sound in most other circumstances.
On the other hand some sounds have only one letter possibility while others have more. E.g. the sound b is always made by the letter b or bb whereas the sound k can be made by c, ch, ck, k, q. Many students experience a great deal of difficulty when choosing the correct letter combination for spelling some sounds.
There is not room in this book to give suggestions for phonics activities for all the letters. Just the three letters which were suggested as good ones to begin with will be included here. Keep in mind the following:
1. Have fun
2. Have more fun
3. Connect braille form with sound
Suggestions for letters include:
introductory activities 10) phrases to read & write
stories, songs, poems 11) stories to read & write
items suggested for letter table
items for letter book
words from common word list
words for substitution
letter recognition activities
letter writing activities
words to read & write