Braille Reading Techniques Checklist

This checklist serves as a reminder of some good techniques to use when reading braille. The checklist contains 4 items.

  1. Your whole reading system, from your fingertips to your shoulder blades, should be able to comfortably reach the braille page and book. You should not experience any strain, tightness, or pain of any kind.
  2. At least one finger from each hand should touch the braille lightly at ALL times. Your fingers should not lean into the braille or apply extra pressure as you would if you were scrubbing the floor. Your fingers should not dip, that is, curl and uncurl. Once your fingers settle on the first cells, they should remain in position, pointed toward the top of the page. Your fingers should not move on their own in any way--neither up-and-down, nor twisting nor wiggling sideways. Fingers should stay flat enough to keep your pads in contact with the six-dot cell, with just the slightest curve to them so that the pads feel only the line you are reading, nothing above or below. The pads are the fatty parts of your fingers. The pads are located where the bones at the tips of your fingers disappear and they extend down to the point where the bones that make the first joint begin to appear. Your fingers are propelled along when reading by your arms and shoulders. The arms and shoulders should be both relaxed and flexible.
  3. Your wrists should remain relaxed, flat and still. Your wrists should not twist to the right or left, rise up, or move sideways on their own. Your fingers are attached to your wrists. That means that your fingers can easily become disoriented on the cells if your wrists move. So it is important to keep your wrists relaxed, flat and still.
  4. Your arms and shoulders need to move smoothly as they propel your fingers along the lines. Your arms and shoulders move closer to your body, together at first, but separately as time goes by, to bring your fingers to a new line. Your arms and shoulders move away from your body to bring your fingers to the top of a page. Your forearms move slightly to the left to bring your fingers to a space or back to the beginning of a line when you need to reread a word. Your arms should never stop to allow your fingers to "scrub out" a braille cell. Scrubbing represents poor braille-reading technique and should be eliminated. If you find yourself scrubbing, try either moving your forearms slightly to the left or take a short break.

(Submitted by: Susan Fisher; Last updated: May 24, 2013)

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