Literacy is essential for a successful education and career but, most of all, a good quality of life.
This is particularly important for children and adults who cannot see any print on a page. Luckily, there are a lot of new ways today for people with sight loss to learn to read braille.
From the traditional braille instruction book to online courses and apps, braille is a language that all sighted and visually impaired adults and children can learn.
If you want to learn braille in English or another language, then there is a range of online courses available.
This article is a guide on everything you need to know about learning braille online.
Why Learn Braille?
Whether you want to learn braille with your visually impaired child or you are a teacher and want to teach braille, the reasons why people want to master braille varies widely.
For many partially sighted and blind people all over the world, the ability to write and read braille is essential to their independence.
Navigate Life With More Independence
Many public spaces have braille signage which allows blind or visually impaired people to call for a lift or open doors.
People who can read braille will be able to manage their life independently when they are out and about.
Braille labels on packaging, medicines and everyday items help people quickly identify what they are.
This means everyone who can read braille will be able to navigate around without the support of a carer.
Greater Success In Education And Career
The research found that people who have braille skills tend to find employment more quickly than those who do not know how to read and write braille.
There is a range of braille tools that can be used in the workplace, including an electronic braille notetaker.
These devices are ideal to take down notes in braille in a meeting or when giving a presentation.
Learn To Use Assistive Technology
Thanks to the development of digital assistive technology, braille has become much more accessible to many visually impaired people around the world.
Braille displays and braille notetakers allow you to transcribe and write braille without issues. However, you will need to be able to read and write braille to use these devices.
Who Can Learn Braille?
Anyone can learn braille online, including visually impaired and sighted people. From young children to older adults, there is no age limit when you can learn braille.
We always encourage parents to help their children learn braille at an early age. Just like with sighted kids, learning a language is much easier when you are younger.
However, this is not to say that partially sighted or blind adults cannot learn braille. If you practice regularly, then you will pick up braille quickly.
There are some groups of people who particularly benefit from learning to read and write braille with an online course.
Visually Impaired Or Blind Children
If a child is blind or significantly visually impaired, then it is a great idea for her or him to learn braille.
Children often pick up the small dots of braille very quickly. Braille does not just improve a child’s quality of life but also increases his or her chances for a good education and career later in life.
Young children can learn braille in almost the same way as they would reading the traditional print, and there are a range of handy tools to make learning braille fun.
Visually Impaired Or Blind Adults
Partially sighted adults who never had the chance to learn braille when they were younger or adults who lost their sight as they grew older can learn braille without any problems.
If you notice that you are slowly losing your sight, then you can pick up learning braille early.
If you are a parent who has a visually impaired child, then it is a good idea to learn braille together with your child.
It won’t just help you with the practical things in life but it’s a wonderful opportunity to understand your child better and share some bonding time when learning braille.
Whether you want to teach braille in the future or you want to expand your skill set, learning braille can be a great way for teachers to add to their expertise.
Ways To Learn Braille Online
If you don’t want to learn braille in the traditional way with an instruction book, then you can also try an online course or a braille app.
Learning braille code is relatively easy but it can take some time to train your fingers to sense the braille dots.
When you are learning braille online, then it’s important to keep in mind that you will likely need some printed materials or some digital tools.
This could be a braille workbook or a braille display that helps you to feel the dots, so you can learn the code quite naturally.
There are also a number of other devices you can use, such as magnifiers or computers with voice recognition software.
Let’s take a look at some of the options for how to learn braille online.
Braille Online Courses
There is a large number of braille courses on the internet. Here is a list of some of the most popular online braille courses.
Hadley School For The Blind
Hadley School for the Blind offers a large range of practical daily life courses but also braille workshops.
The braille courses are designed for those who have sighted as well as everyone with a visual impairment.
UEB Online has one of the most extensive braille training programs. You don’t need a braille reading device, just a working computer with internet access.
The advantage of this online braille learning course is that you do not just learn braille literacy but they also teach braille math (on both a basic and advanced level).
APH Nemeth Tutorial
This online braille tutorial is free and you can complete it at your own pace. It was designed by the American Printing House for the Blind.
Similar to UEB, this braille training program also covers literacy as well as simple to advanced mathematics in braille.
The webinars from the Braille Academy are aimed at sighted people, including families and teachers.
They also have an interesting music braille webinar which is a little more unusual.
With the advancement in technology, braille has also moved to smaller devices such as iPads, tablets, and smartphones.
Here is a list of some handy braille apps that help you immerse yourself in braille code.
- Braille Academy: Play & Learn
- Brailliac: Braille Tutor Android app
- UEB PREP free iOS app
- Braille Tutor iOS app
- Braille Contraction Lookup Android app
- Visual Brailler iOS app
- Learn Braille Alphabet iOS app
How Long Does It Take To Learn Braille Online?
Just like learning a new language, braille takes a little bit of time and effort to learn. As a rule of thumb, it can take around four month to learn the basics of braille.
Saying this, once you understand the essential parts of braille, it’s much easier. Plus, when you use it regularly, then you will be able to learn braille code faster.
Additional Tips To Learn Braille
If you want to master braille like a language, then here are some essential tips on how to learn braille faster.
Learn Braille With A Course
Whether you want to pick up some braille in an online workshop or you prefer a face to face course, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Learning braille with an online course means you can usually just log into your training program without the need to travel.
Many online courses, such as the webinars from the Hadley School for the Blind, are self-led and you can also speak to an instructor who guides you through the material.
There are also courses for families, teachers and sighted people teaching uncontracted braille, contracted braille, braille mathematics and braille music reading.
The majority of braille courses are free but make sure you check any small print before you sign up for a course.
Get A Braille Instruction Book
You may get a good instruction book with your online course. If you don’t, then it’s a good idea to buy one.
It’s worth speaking to your vision specialist. He or she may be apple to recommend a great braille learning book or you might even get a free copy.
Check Other Braille Resources
There are so many free resources for braille learning, so make sure that you check out other resources first before you spend any money.
Many online courses that teach you braille also come with a lot of free materials.
BRL: Braille Through Remote Learning is also a great resource to explore as they offer online dictionaries, self-led courses and other handy materials.
One resource we would recommend for braille learners is a braille dictionary.
Use A Braille Label Maker
When children learn a new language, it’s great fun to get some labels and stick them onto your household items with the right word.
This also works when you are learning braille. Just get a free braille label maker from your vision specialist and label everything in your home.
This is a wonderful way for children and adults to practice braille. Plus, you are surrounded by braille every day which means you can learn braille code faster.
Sign Up With Your Local Library for the Blind
Your state’s Library for the Blind also provides a range of useful braille materials, including braille books and audiobooks.
You should also be able to find some braille learning books that could help you with your braille online course.
The more braille material you read and look at, the more your braille learning will progress.
Sign Up To A Braille Book Club
Reading braille as much as possible is a great way to learn braille quickly. There are a range of different braille book clubs for adults and children.
Practice Braille In Public Spaces
Braille code is all around us and you can find it in many public places. Whenever you notice braille on a sign or an elevator, try to feel it and read what it says.
This is also an ideal way to navigate around a city with braille.
Get A Braille Writer
Reading braille is just one part of learning this beautiful language for the blind but it’s also important to write it regularly.
One of the best ways to learn to write braille is with a braille writer. However, these devices are expensive, so it’s best to check with your vision specialist if he or she can get one for you.
Usually, also your state’s Library for the Blind should be able to lend you a braille writer, so make sure to ask them.
You can do almost any braille writing with a braille writer. From creating a scrap book or writing a journal, working with a braille writer is good practice for your braille skills.
However, these devices don’t check your braille writing knowledge. For this, you could need to get a print-braille translation program which is very pricey.
Sign Up To Braille Newsletters
Another great way to learn braille online is by signing up to a range of different braille newsletters and correspondences in braille.
It’s not just exciting to get a braille letter in the post, but it’s a fantastic way to practice your newly learned braille language skills.
Learning braille online is one of the easiest options to learn braille code. You can just sign up for a course and learn braille at your own pace.
There are also a vast range of materials and additional resources that you can use to practice your braille learning.
Some of the different braille courses also provide instructor support, so you don’t have to worry about learning all on your own.
Just regularly practice your braille reading and writing skills, and you’ll master braille in no time.