Why learn braille?

Computer speech software is good for speed, but braille is truly comparable to print.

Hearing the spoken word does not always give enough information.  An example is that the way a word is said isn’t always how that word should be spelt. A spelling mistake is more obvious in braille than hearing a mispronunciation. Braille is also useful for labelling objects such as food in your pantry. You can also write notes and take down phone numbers as a sighted person would with a pen, by using a braille slate and stylus- find out more about these on the Writing in braille page.

Learning to read braille

Like any new skill, braille takes time to learn.  On average it takes about four months to learn the uncontracted version and up to two years for contracted. But once you’ve picked it up, you’ve got it for life.

Here at the Blind Foundation, we teach people who are blind or have low vision of all ages by touch.   We have programmes for both uncontracted and contracted braille – so you can use what suits you best.  Our Keeping In Touch (KIT) programme teaches the uncontracted code, while Simply Touch and Read (STAR) covers the contracted version.

If you already use Blind Foundation services and want to learn braille, please get in touch on 0800 24 33 33 or braille@blindfoundation.org.nz for basic materials to get you started.

For sighted people wanting to learn, you might enjoy the free online braille course offered by the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children’s Renwick Centre in Australia.   You can also contact the Blind Foundation on 0800 24 33 33 or braille@blindfoundation.org.nz. The Renwick Centre also offers a course in braille for vision impaired learners- find out more about the Renwick Centre braille course for the vision impaired.

Blind or sighted, to gain certification, you can take the Trans-Tasman Certificate of Proficiency in Unified English Braille.

The Blind Foundation’s STAR programme is also available for people and organisations outside of New Zealand.  Simply phone +64 9 355 6562 or email afprequests@blindfoundation.org.nz  to find out about options and prices.

Children

Young children can learn to read braille in the same way they might learn to read print. Most blind children and those with low vision will be taught the tool by a vision resource teacher through the Ministry of Education. They will use the same books as their sighted classmates, but their books will be in braille.  The Blind Foundation’s Accessible Formats Service produces a lot of those books.

Costs

The Blind Foundation only offers our full braille teaching service to Kiwis who are eligible to use our services.  These people can learn the code free of charge.

If you aren’t eligible to use our services, or are from overseas, you can learn through purchasing our STAR tutorial or accessing an online course.

Braille resources

The Blind Foundation has a fantastic activity book, Connect the Dots.  It’s a resource to teach people of all ages some braille basics.   You can download Connect the Dots as a PDF below:

Connect the Dots (.pdf)

To order printed copies you can get in touch with us on 0800 24 33 33 or braille@blindfoundation.org.nz.