How to use a computer keyboard for braille practice

Written by bekah snyder
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How to use a computer keyboard for braille practice
A Braille sticker kit transforms an ordinary keyboard into a practice tool. (keyboard image by Jan Will from Fotolia.com)

Learning the Braille alphabet by means of a computer keyboard is made possible by companies who produce specialised labelling kits. These kits, referred to as "keyboard overlays", contain textured stickers that have actual Braille (bumps and dots) imprinted on them. The stickers are sized to fit standard keyboard keys and adhere directly onto individual keyboard letters. These kits are primarily intended for educational and practicing purposes. Whether a student of Braille has a partial visual impairment, is completely blind or has normal sight, anyone desiring to practice Braille can conveniently transform a computer keyboard into a learning tool. The kits were originally designed with the intent to teach true students of Braille and enable them to use the same computer technologies available to sighted people.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Braille keyboard overlay stickers

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Buy a kit containing Braille-specific computer keyboard overlay stickers. As of 2010, self-installed sticker kits can generally be purchased for below £13.

  2. 2

    Moisten a sponge or cloth with rubbing alcohol and thoroughly clean the computer keyboard keys. Allow the keys to dry completely. Adhere the Braille textured alphabet stickers to the computer keyboard. Place the Braille sticker labelled "A" directly onto the keyboard key labelled "A". Press and hold the sticker on the key for 10 seconds. Continue in this way, adhering each Braille alphabet sticker to the corresponding alphabet computer key.

    How to use a computer keyboard for braille practice
    Practice Braille on a Keyboard (cleaning and sanitation products studio isolated image by dinostock from Fotolia.com)
  3. 3

    Type the alphabet in order, from A-Z using the Braille stickers on the keyboard. Pause for several seconds as you touch each Braille letter to allow your tactile senses to memorise the feel of each letter. As you pick up speed, continue to consciously acknowledge each Braille letter solely by touch. Practice Braille anytime you sit down to your keyboard.

    How to use a computer keyboard for braille practice
    Test Your Knowledge (abc alphabet image by Irina Obidina from Fotolia.com)
  4. 4

    Select at random any letter on the keyboard with one index finger. Identify the Braille alphabet letter aloud before verifying the correct answer. As your Braille reading skills advance, you will be ready to graduate from practicing on the computer keyboard to practicing with bona fide Braille books from a library.

    How to use a computer keyboard for braille practice
    (test image by multimartinator from Fotolia.com)

Tips and warnings

  • When performing self-tests (identifying Braille characters on the keyboard by feel), avoid the tendency to naturally start the test with your fingers resting on the home keys (ASDF/JKL:). If you are a trained typist, your muscle memory will give away the answers since it knows how to locate any letter from the home key position. Instead, be sure the self-test is as unrehearsed as possible.

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