Fostering Beginning Braille Literacy Skills in a Supportive School Library Setting!

School Libraries! A placed filled with endless literacy opportunities and reading adventures. Just take one look around your school library and you will find numerous ways to foster reading, writing and literacy skills in the large print and Braille reader. Find countless positive ways to successfully instruct, integrate and model the seemingly endless low vision and Braille educational tools! Foster the use of large print, twin vision (Braille/print) and Braille specialized materials into library lessons along with sighted peers. Your large print and Braille reader will enjoy the real meaning of “Least Restrictive Environment” as well as fostering positive educational interactions with sighted peers. The benefits are great when you share large print and Braille specialized resources in a positive structured or incidental educational setting. Specialized materials and strategies will promote maximum literacy skills for your large print and Braille reader as well as provide a unique opportunity for sharing these materials and techniques with the sighted student.

Promote and cultivate your low vision and blind child’s literary skills and reading success in the school library with meaningful, low vision, large print and Braille specialized accommodations and materials.

1. Introduce your child/student to the librarian and library staff prior to the first day of school.

2. Schedule an Orientation & Mobility lesson with your child’s O & M specialist to explore the school library. This lesson can be coordinated with your Teacher of the Blind to address specialized material needs and low vision/braille labeling.

3. Discuss stocking the library with large print, twin vision (braille/print) and Braille books with consideration of your child’s age/grade and/or reading level. The library should contain a selection of books for the large print and braille reader that corresponds to book titles provided for the sighted student. In addition, include specialized titles demonstrating positive low vision and blind role models fostering a positive self-image. Include high motivational reading materials to address your child’s specific reading interests and hobbies.

4. Identify a specific location in the library for large print and Braille books. Label each section appropriately in large print or Braille so that they are easily accessible by low vision and Braille readers. Continue to integrate and build upon your library with a combination of new large print and Braille books and books already read (and no longer required) from the classroom, Braille lesson and/or home setting.

5. Having a large print and/or Braille book section in your library provides the librarian the opportunity to include these books into small group reading activities. It’s a great opportunity for the librarian to integrate specialized large print and Braille materials for the low vision and blind student along with sighted peers in a naturally occurring educational setting.

6. Make sure that your large print and Braille reader has a laptop copy of the book being read by the librarian/staff. This provides the student with the opportunity to follow along and develop visual and/or tactile tracking while developing literacy skills. It’s about taking advantage of every literacy opportunity in each incidental educational setting.

7. Build your low vision/blind students confidence by having them read a favorite or familiar large print or braille book to a small group of peers or even a younger group of students. Reading to peers is a functional use of low vision and/or Braille materials in a wonderful natural school setting.

8. Incorporate auditory keyboard software on one of the library computers and in the school computer room to develop beginning keyboarding and literacy skills. Keyboarding skills are essential and should include both 6-key and QWERTY instruction. Make sure your child’s technology/keyboarding skills, goals and equipment needs are individually evaluated by your technology specialist. He/she should be familiar with the most updated assessment, software and material tools for the low vision and blind student. Initiate student keyboarding early and practice often while integrating technology skills into the classroom setting. Enlist appropriate staff (teacher, Braille teacher and Occupational Therapist) to develop your child’s finger strength, accuracy and speed of keyboarding. Remember that keyboarding including both 6-key and QWERTY opens up a world of options when making future technology choices. Six-key and QWERTY keyboarding is also an opportunity to reinforce true literacy using both the Literary Braille code and spelling as used by the sighted.

9. Consider having a high contrast computer keyboard for your low vision student. Consult with your Teacher of the Blind and Partially Sighted regarding specific keyboard contrast recommendations.

10. Work with your librarian in developing a large print or Braille library card. This is a functional way to encourage reading and develop the typical responsibilities for “checking out” and “returning” low vision and/or Braille books in a timely manner.

11. A consistent supply and rotation of large print or Braille books provides ongoing accessible lendable literacy resources for your low vision and/or blind student while encouraging reading in the home setting.

12. There are a variety of school magazines available to the low vision and Braille reader. Consider placing large print and Braille magazines in the library as resources for loan. The American Printing House for the Blind is a good start to discover some of these useful material resources.

13. Label book shelves in large print and/or braille as required for your student. Labeling book sections will foster beginning organized tactile scanning skills. Shelves can be organized into grade level, twin vision/braille, subject matter, fiction/non-fiction, biography etc.

14. Helen Keller week is typically celebrated in the school setting. Make the most of this celebration with inclusion of a low vision and Braille “show and tell” of specialized materials presented in the library setting. Include items that Helen Keller would have used during her lifetime in addition to low vision and Braille specialized materials used in today’s educational setting. Showcase Braille books, a Braille Writer, slate & stylus, cane and Braille materials used by your Blind student.

15. Include large print/Braille books of historical figures and famous low vision and blind individuals that made a significant positive contribution or present as great role models. There are a variety of good books available and these should be included in your student’s library selections.

16. Establish a connection with your local library. Identify the process of obtaining appropriate large print and braille books for your child/student from the local library. Discuss appropriate larger print and Braille labels so that your child/student can navigate the appropriate book sections. See if your local library would like donations of your child’s gently used braille books to build their braille book collection. Donations of gently used braille books may be a welcome resource. Consider an orientation and mobility lesson for your child in the local library setting.

Actively seek out your child’s Teacher of the Blind and Partially Sighted, Orientation and Mobility Specialist and technology specialist to address your child’s specific individualized educational library needs.

Even though this is not an inclusive list, it should get you off to a good start in addressing individualized library accommodations for your child.

So, don’t forget to establish a large print and/or Braille lending library to develop your low vision and Braille reader’s literacy skills!


Make it an everyday experience!

Health Literacy: A Strategic Marketing Asset And Corporate Social Responsibility

Health literacy can be defined as people’s competencies to access, understand, appraise and apply information to make health decisions in everyday life. It helps individuals make healthy choices in times where the boundaries between work and life aren’t so clear anymore.

When people fall ill, they seek the best treatments possible. But, how could they know about those treatments if they aren’t provided with easy-to-understand information in the first place? Pharmaceutical firms develop countless drugs and devices to assist people in managing their condition, but only on a few occasions are advertisements presented in a way that educates the patient. By spending more time in ensuring that all their communications are clear to people of any education level, pharmaceutical firms can improve health literacy.

Challenges Faced With Health Literacy

According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (Health Communication Activities), over a third of US adults-77 million people-would have difficulty with common health tasks, such as following directions on a prescription drug label or adhering to a childhood immunization schedule using a standard chart.1

A report presented by the Institute of Medicine suggests that 90 million people, nearly half of the adult US population, lacks health literacy skills needed to understand and act on health information and health system demands.2 Healthcare advertising has a long way to go before patients can find it easier to relate and understand the information they’re receiving from these businesses.

The current methods being used to market to people with health conditions is making patient education fall by the wayside. People find actors and models less relatable when compared with real patients. If patients lack the health literacy that is needed to understand the ads, the information provided could mislead them or be misunderstood.

ONLY 12 % of Adults have proficient health literacy

The US Department of Health and Human Services reported that only 12 percent of adults have proficient health literacy.3 Poor patient education could lead to poor management of chronic ailments and even cause setbacks. People may skip their much-required appointments or tests, lack the ability to manage conditions, get hospitalized often and face increased health care costs. If patients aren’t aware of the questions they should ask about their medicines, in essence of how the medicine would act or react, they could experience negative outcomes.

Health Literacy As A Strategic Marketing Asset And Corporate Social Responsibility

Health literacy can cease to be a challenge if both pharmaceutical companies and healthcare providers take measures to educate their patients. The rapid development of different communication channels has made people seem omnipresent. This gives healthcare professional access to a variety of communication channels (social media, blogs, community forums, patient education drives, etc.) to get health information across.

While there are plenty of ways for pharmaceutical businesses to improve marketing through health literacy, the first step would be to begin with writing information that will be easily understood.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

- Leonardo da Vinci

Using technical jargons (in this case-industrial medical terminology) can interfere with health literacy because patients can’t make sense of what the words mean. Pharmaceutical companies should stick to the local language and writing style in order to ensure that people know what they’re doing by using a specific medical device or taking a medication.

Even the way information is laid out can improve comprehension. The US Department of Health and Human Services suggest that the text should be in at least 12-point font with little or no formatting, such as script or italics.4 Images and bullet points can be used to space out information and add meaning to your communication. Facts should be presented in short sentences and phrases so that patients do not get overwhelmed when they’re reading a health literature.

Multi-channel marketing has its own set of challenges. Pamphlets and brochures offer small bursts of information at one place. However, when it comes to websites, most people struggle to search for information. If pharmaceutical companies are seeking to expand their web presence and invest in various Web Marketing activities, it will be wise to design sites that are user-friendly. These websites need to have clear categories, keep a simple layout and use a variety of media.

Bearing in mind the explosion of information that is now available to patients, direct-to-consumer advertising is the best bet for pharmaceutical firms. By presenting information in an easy-to-understand manner, pharmaceutical companies can increase patient education with their publication.

Assessments for Improved Results

Improved results just don’t happen.

Everyone looks for improved results. When training, we want to be able to run faster and go longer distances, lift more, throw further, hit the golf ball longer and straighter. Almost every company wants to see improved results in achieving higher sales, lower costs, more income, and better employee retention, for example.

It takes behavior change to bring them about. In order for change to occur, there must be a change in thinking, as our behaviors are a function of our attitudes.

While coaching and leadership development can certainly work without assessment tools, these instruments help us hone in on those attitudes and competencies which require change in order to improve.

Why Use Assessments?

The phrase “assessment tools” in our context refers to the methods of gathering data about leadership or organizational performance and understanding. These may include questionnaires, written tests, interviews, checklists and rating scales for projects or performances. They give us a measure of where we currently are. By measuring that, there is an indication of areas that need development or improvement.

Peter Drucker, the great management theorist, created a simple yet profound organizational assessment process of five questions:

o What is our mission?

o Who is our customer?

o What does the customer value?

o What are our results?

o What is our plan?

Drucker believed that self-assessment leads to action and without it, action didn’t have meaning. While Drucker’s self-assessment is short, the process of arriving at the answers to the five questions is not. It is almost equivalent to doing a strategic plan.

“There is nothing so terrible as activity without insight.” ~ Johann Wolfgang Van Goethe

Yes, but Which Assessment Tools?

Assessment tools range from the very simple to the quite complex. An example of a simple organizational assessment can be found in Fail-Safe Leadership by Linda Martin and David Mutchler (2003). They call it “a quick temperature check.” It asks the question:

“Might the leadership in my company be failing?”

They say the answer might be “yes’ if one or more of the conditions listed is present in the organization:

o Excessive meetings

o Preponderance of consensus driven decision making

o Lack of personal accountability

o Time consuming and/or meaningless performance evaluations

o Communication problems

o Difficulty terminating poor performers

o Misalignment/poorly coordinated efforts

o Personality conflicts and/or power struggles

o Difficulties keeping employees motivated

o Unacceptable results

o Time management problems

o Reactive rather than proactive thinking

o Micro-management

o Can’t do attitudes

o Chronically sagging sales

o Unproductive teams and/or ineffective teamwork

o Duplication of effort

o High staff turnover

o Failure to achieve quality standards

o Fear of making decisions

The above type of assessment is not scientifically reliable. Instead, it offers a very general sense that something within an organization may or may not be wrong.

A slightly more sophisticated organizational assessment tool is D.I.A.L.O.G. (Diagnostic Data Indicating the Alignment of Organizational Goals). This tool answers the question:

“How can we easily measure if the people within our organization are aligned with our strategies?”

D.I.A.L.O.G. provides an organization’s leadership with reasonably hard data as to where there are disconnects between the vision and/or mission, and where management and employees perceive the company to be in a number of key areas.

The most interesting aspect of D.I.A.L.O.G. is that it uses as its foundation the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award criteria. These criteria are well accepted indicators of organizational success. The Baldrige Award was created by federal law in 1987. Information on this Act can be found at

The award promotes excellence in organizational performance, recognizes the quality and performance achievements of U.S. organizations, and publicizes successful performance strategies. The Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence are available on the web at

At Management Mpowerment Associates, we offer a full range of organizational assessment tools to assist leaders determine where opportunities for positive change exist. These instruments are the starting point for the change process. The hard work comes afterward, as the organizational stakeholders strive to institute the changes indicated.