Teachers Perfecting Braille Education

By: Jourdan Batson

Having assignments perfectly translated without needing labels in Braille is a privilege we never really think about. This month I was able to talk to Kathy Denton, Jenks Braillist, and Anna Wallace, the teacher over the sight-impaired, to find out about how Jenks accommodates the sight-impaired students.

Denton oversees all Jenks of the campuses here at JPS. She takes assignments from visually impaired students and shifts the assignments to braille. 

“I didn’t go to school to learn Braille,” said Denton. “I used to be a computer teacher, and the sight-impaired teacher told me I should learn. She handed me books and her phone number right before the summertime and told me to call if I had questions.” 

Denton is placed upstairs in Building 6 at the high school. She does all Braille by using a machine that looks a lot like a typewriter and types it all out by hand. Along with using these machines Denton and Wallace both use tactile resources. 

This is a 3D poster with all the planets on them. They use lots of resources the student can feel and it’s accompanied by a label written in Braille. 

Denton works directly with the teachers, rather than the students. The teachers send her their assignments (elementary school teachers with younger students send her storybooks) and she labels them in Braille. They also use Braille rulers, 3D graphs, stickers, and anything else needed to learn. The graphs and rulers are incorporated into teaching “Nemeth” math, a Braille designed specifically for visually-impaired students, which both Denton and Wallace teach to the younger students. 

Here is one of the children’s books Mrs. Denton has put braille labels on

Wallace uses the Braille and assignments provided by Denton to actually do the teaching with the students. She prefers one-on-one teaching, but Covid has made it extremely difficult to teach this way since most sight-impaired students have opted in for online instruction. She still teaches via Zoom or Google Meet though, and the technology they have to utilize makes this possible. 

“I started as a special education teacher,” said Wallace. “But I found out about being the travel teacher for the sight-impaired. Which was where I got to go out of campus and take the student to the grocery store or around town and just teaching how to go out and do things. It sounded so fun and I love doing it.”

The transportation is her favorite part, but she also has to teach the three grades of Braille: Alphabet, Shortened/contracted Braille, and Numbers/separate math. 

I asked both Wallace and Denton what accommodations they love that Jenks has, and on the contrasting side what they wish Jenks had. They both responded that Jenks had everything they asked for and needed and regularly would ask for lists. Wallace then went on to say how the only thing Jenks couldn’t offer was a visually-impaired community. They offered lots of technology and necessities, but every year lots of students leave to go to the Oklahoma School For the Blind in Muskogee and are able to build more relationships there. 

I lastly asked what people who weren’t visually impaired could do to educate ourselves on how to be respectful and learn correct terms. Wallace discussed how a huge thing is not assuming sight-impaired students need help, they actually seldom need help. Be willing to help if somebody specifically asks you, but other than that let them be their own individual.

For further research on this topic, you can find more information on the Oklahoma School For the Blind website! 

http://osb.k12.ok.us/ 

By doing your homework it shows we invest in every Trojan every day! 

Mrs. Denton taught me how to Braille my name, here’s a picture! 

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