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Working with Print-Disabled Youth: Resources

A guide on reading, literacy, and access to information for adults who support print-disabled children.

This page includes a compilation of resources on how to learn braille, relevant events in New York City, print disability advocacy groups, and more that may be helpful in supporting a child with a print disability.

Learn Braille

Early Literacy Kits

In addition to books, audiobooks, and talking books, the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library has literacy kits available to check out. The Early Literacy Kits include resources for print disabled children and their caregivers to promote early literacy, tactile awareness, braille recognition, and line tracking, through fun activities. There are five different kits:

  • Kit A: Caregiver’s Kit
  • Kit B: Tactile Learning and Pre-Braille Skills
  • Kit C: Beginning with Braille
  • Kit D: Braille Books with Tactile Tracking, Embossing, and Textures
  • Kit E: More Braille Activities, Maps, and Games!

Early Literacy Kits can be checked out for 3 weeks at a time using an NYPL library card.

This Literacy Kit from NYPL's Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library includes a Humpty Dumpty touching rhyme book, a Braille maze activity book, shapes and counting Braille books, and flip books.

An Early Literacy Kit from the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library, image via NYPL

Braille Courses

Any adult working with or caring for a child with a print disability may benefit from learning braille. These are a few free resources for learning braille:

The Braille Study Group at the Andrew Heiskell Library is offered twice weekly, Saturdays 10:30am–12:30pm and Wednesdays 11:30am–1:00pm, for both blind and sighted learners. Register by phone at (212) 621-0627 or email chanceyfleet@nypl.org. See the calendar of upcoming events at the library for more information.

Hadley Braille by Mail Courses are offered free of charge to anyone with visual impairment, and families and professionals serving them.

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) offers Braille Certification courses in literary, mathematics, and music transcribing, as well as literary and mathematics proofreading for Library of Congress certification. The NFB is based in Baltimore, but courses are offered remotely and are free.

Refer to the National Library Service's reference publication, Braille Literacy: Resources for Learning and Reading, for additional information on learning braille.

Additional Resources

Below are additional resources relating to disability, braille, and accessibility relevant to print-disabled children and the adults in their lives:

A list of Braille Activities for Children from the Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness includes games and activities to introduce children as young as 3 to braille.

The Braille Bug website from the American Printing House for the Blind includes information, activities, and games designed to teach children who are sighted about braille. Children who are blind or visually impaired also enjoy Braille Bug web activities along with their sighted classmates by using adaptive technologies.

Braille Library & Transcribing Services runs a free lending library of braille books by mail and offers comparatively affordable braille transcription services.

Building on Patterns from the American Printing House for the Blind is a systematic, comprehensive, and balanced literacy program designed to teach young children with visual impairments to read and write using braille.

FamilyConnect is an online, multimedia community created by the American Printing House for the Blind to give parents of visually impaired children a place to support each other, share stories and concerns, and link to local resources.

The National Library Service's list of General Resources on Disabilities includes a wide array of information, including an extensive listing on Disability Awareness for Children Pre-K through Sixth Grade (also available in ebraille (BRF) format on the main page).

Paths to Literacy is an online hub for information related to literacy for students who are blind or visually impaired, including those with additional disabilities or deafblindness.

The WonderBaby website is dedicated to helping parents of young children with visual impairments as well as children with multiple disabilities. It includes a section on braille and literacy skills for children.

Events

Weekly Events at the Andrew Heiskell Library‚Äč

Weekly events for children are listed below. See the calendar of all upcoming events at the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library.

Baby Lapsit
Mondays @ 3:45pm
Stories, action songs, and group play for infants 0-18 months and their caregivers. No registration required, but space is limited.

Maker Space
Wednesdays @ 3:30pm
Socializing, crafting, building for children 2-5 years. Space and supplies are limited to the first 30 children!

Story Time with Anthony or Susanna
Fridays @ 11:15am
Stories, action songs, and group play for children 18 months-5 years and their caregivers. No registration required, but space is limited.

Play Time
Fridays @ 11:45am
All ages welcome to play!

NYPL's Annual Accessibility Fair

The New York Public Library hosts an annual Accessible Community, Culture, and Technology Fair for people who are blind, low-vision, and physically disabled. The event includes tablers from educational, employment, advocacy, arts, recreation, technology, and support organizations as well as fun accessible activities, financial counseling, and more. Spanish language information and guides are available and verbally-described touch tours of the historic Stephen A. Schwarzman building are offered.

The most recent fair was held in November 2019. Check the NYPL's events calendar for the next event.

Museums and Cultural Institutions

Culture Pass is a great way to access museums and cultural institutions in New York City! Reserve a pass for participating institutions on the Culture Pass website using a NYPL, BPL, or QPL library card for free admission.

 

Tactile tours feature verbal descriptions and the opportunity to touch the artifacts so that visitors can enjoy a multi sensory museum experience. Many of these institutions have regularly scheduled tactile tours, which may require a reservation in advance. The following institutions offer tactile tours and have free admission with Culture Pass:

*Not part of Culture Pass, but admission is always free!

 

Refer to the NYPL's blog post, Art and Low-Vision: A List of Accessible Museums in New York City, for more information.

 

A tour guide describes an exhibit in a descriptive tour of the Guggenheim Museum.

 

A Mind's Eye tour at the Guggenheim Museum, image via the Guggenheim

Advocacy Groups & Services

National

The American Council of the Blind (ACB) seeks to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people.

The American Foundation for the Blind is committed to creating a more equitable world for people with disabilities and expanding possibilities for the nearly 25 million Americans living with vision loss.

The American Printing House for the Blind is the world’s largest nonprofit organization creating accessible learning experiences through educational, workplace, and independent living products and services for people who are blind and visually impaired.

National Braille Press (NBP) empowers the blind and visually impaired with programs, materials, and technology supporting braille literacy and learning through touch.

National Center on Accessible Education Materials serves as a resource for educators, parents, students, publishers, and others interested in learning more about accessible educational materials and instructional material accessibility standards.

Web Accessibility in Mind (WebAIM) empowers organizations to make their web content accessible to people with print disabilities.

Local

Helen Keller Services for the Blind serves residents of New York City and Long Island by advocating and providing programming for residents with visual impairments so that they can live, work, and thrive, starting with early intervention. Specializing in services to preschool students, the programs include early intervention and a Parent & Early Education Resource Center.

INCLUDEnyc is the leading provider of training and information for young people with any disability (age 0-26) in New York City, their families, and the professionals who support them.

Museum, Arts and Culture Access Consortium (MAC) works to make New York City's cultural institutions more accessible to people with all abilities.

New York State Commission for the Blind Children’s Program provides rehabilitation services to children who are legally blind.