Perkins School for the Blind
Perkins Issue III: Two Hands Reading Braille

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October 15 -
November 26, 2007

Logo. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

A special one month show of artwork by Perkins students. Learn more.

October 20, 2007

Discover Conference Logo

For families of school age children who are blind or deafblind, ages 6-22.

Visit us online to see what's new at Perkins!

View the Perkins Training Center Schedule.

Button. Support Perkins
Please visit our
website to make a
secure online gift.


Photo. Roz Rowley

Roz Rowley, Secondary Teacher/Perkins Alumna

In September of 2001, Stephen, a bright nineteen-year old student with a history of failed attempts to learn to read Braille stepped into the classroom of Perkins teacher Roz Rowley. In fact, before coming to Perkins, he had been advised not to bother pursuing academics at all. “As soon as I started to teach Stephen, I could tell that he had given up on learning to read,” said Rowley, a Perkins alum herself. “Not only did Stephen have great difficulty learning the letters and contractions, he also had poor phonemic awareness - he could not master the sounds that form words, the very foundation of literacy. I needed to find a different way to teach this information to him, and that’s what I intended to do.”

Learn more about Roz's story.


Perkins Panda Literacy Program

Panda Complete Kit

Perkins Panda materials are designed to teach early literacy skills to children with visual impairments. These books incorporate print, braille and tactile graphics to help beginning learners make connections between the printed word and the real object.

You can purchase a complete kit or individual books, activity guides and other pieces on our website. Learn more about the Perkins Panda Literacy Program

Perkins would also like to extend a special thanks to the Lions Clubs in District 33K for their generous grant that will provide 255 Perkins Panda kits to area libraries, teachers and families.


Please visit our website to learn more about:

Braille & Talking Book Library
Blind and Visually Impaired Clearinghouse
Community Programs
International Programs
On Campus Programs
Professional Development



Literacy is More than an Open Book

Photo. Student writing with a modified keyboard. For many people, the word literacy brings up images of someone reading a book from the library, writing a letter or reading the newspaper.

Now think about a student touching a cup that is mounted on the wall at the entrance to the cafeteria to know that he is in the correct place to have his lunch; a child taking a bathing suit from her object calendar to tell her teacher that she wants to go swimming; a young man pointing to a picture of a hamburger in his communication wallet to place his order at McDonalds. These are all examples that literacy is a communication tool that takes many forms.

Children who are sighted and hearing are continually exposed to language and begin developing literacy skills from infancy, long before they are formally taught reading and writing at school. Most preschool age children know that the word on the red, octagonal street sign is STOP or that the sign over the door at the movie theater is EXIT. They are immersed in a literacy rich world that they can easily access.

For a child who is blind or deafblind, literacy skills are limited because of their reducted access to the visual and hearing world. Often, the stories that are read to them can only be heard. They may know that their parent is turning pages of the book, but may not know that there are printed words on those pages.

Literacy is the understanding that symbols represent objects, events, concepts, people, and ideas. It must be carefully taught to all children, but especially to children who are blind, deafblind or have additional disabilities. Learn more about literacy or look at related resources.


National Coalition on Deafblindness seeks increase for the federal program supporting deafblind services

The National Coalition on Deafblindness has been working to secure a $2 million dollar increase for the federal program that supports deafblind services. Despite a doubling in the population of children who are deafblind over the last twenty years, federal funding has remained level. Inflation has further reduced the purchasing power of these funds to nearly half of what they could provide for in 1985. Earlier this year, Rep. Markey led an effort to send a group letter, signed by seventeen of his colleagues, to the House Appropriations Committee asking for a $2 million dollar increase. During the House deliberations of the Labor HHS budget, Rep. McCaul (R-TX) offered an amendment seeking these funds, which was accepted and passed. Despite this, the Coalition has been recently advised that the House may pass a large omnibus appropriation bill instead of individual ones and is asking individuals to send letters to Chairman David Obey asking that, should the leadership decide to do an omnibus bill, the $2 million extra for deafblind services be included per the amendment he accepted on the house floor. Learn more about this initiative.

Letters should be addressed to:
The Honorable David Obey, Chairman
Subcommittee on Labor HHS & Education
House Appropriations Committee
2358 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515 OR
Fax your letter to: (202) 225-3509*

*Letters sent to the DC office by mail may experience significant delays; therefore we encourage you to fax your letter.

Please email copies of your letters to Betsy McGinnity.


Where in the World is Perkins?

Students learning how to use Braillers in the Philippines. Perkins Braillers®, a typewriter-sized braille writing machine are known internationally as an entry path to braille literacy.

In the decade since Resources for the Blind, Inc. in the Philippines began introducing braille to children who are blind at their summer camp, their commitment to braille literacy and the Perkins Brailler® has grown. Resources for the Blind, Inc. began with 20 braillers which were loaned to teachers throughout the country who were working with mainstreamed students. Since then, Resources for the Blind, Inc. and Christoffel-Blindenmission (CBM), a leading professional organization for people with disabilities worldwide, have made over 100 braillers available to teachers working in integrated schools.

Randy Weisser, Director of Resources for the Blind, Inc., says “the braillers significantly improve the quality of education for blind children by enabling teachers to produce braille worksheets, outlines, tests and other required reading materials on demand, not weeks later. Students also use the braillers to prepare assignments and other schoolwork.”

The goal of Resources for the Blind, Inc., in Randy’s words, is to ensure that “there is at least one brailler in every school where blind children are mainstreamed.”

Learn more about Resources for the Blind, Inc. in the Philippines or about the international impact of the Perkins Brailler ®.


Photo. Matthew Shifrin reading from The Deathly Hallows Harry Potter Extravaganza
On July 21, over 200 patrons from the Braille & Talking Book Library (BTBL) and Watertown Free Public Library and Perkins students and staff attended a fun Harry Potter Extravaganza on campus. We celebrated the simultaneous release of the braille and print editions of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final book in the popular Harry Potter series. Matthew Shifrin of Newton (age 10) and Marisa Parker of Mattapoisett (age 12) joined Boston Celtics alum Dana Barros and Director of Player Personnel Dave Wohl to read the first chapter of the new book aloud. Learn more about the BTBL PerKIDS program.

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Perkins School
for the Blind
175 North Beacon Street
Watertown, Massachusetts 02472
Phone 617-924-3434
Email Us