Become a Braille Mentor!
WisBrl introduced its Braille Literacy Project in the fall of 2000. Patterned on the various tutoring/mentoring literacy programs available to sighted students, this program matches an adult braille-reading mentor with braille-reading students in a school or home setting. We are seeking participants and mentors in the program.
What does a Braille Mentor do?
This is how Cheri McGrath, the first Braille Mentor, answers that:
“I hope I am encouraging, supportive, and that I instill a love of reading. We're enjoying books, games, writing, and spending time together. The children have their books and I bring my materials from the National Braille Press. I've also requested books for specific holidays from the Regional Library. We also play games. These activities stress sharing, ‘turn taking’ and group participation. Most afternoons I work individually with each child. Sometimes we each read a page. Sometimes, when help is needed, I read and the youngster rereads that page. I usually ask if the youngster wants to start. Sometimes I go first. It thrills me when I hear, ‘Cheri, I want to go first.’ It's wonderful to be interrupted with, ‘Can I read this part?’
“We've talked about our feelings about blindness, pride when using a cane, wanting to become more independent, and many other things. I try to be very honest, realistic, but always positive.”
What does a Mentor get from the program?
“I've received beautiful birthday and Christmas cards. I was ill and their teacher had them record their stories for me. One boy, with some sight, described pictures as he read. The youngest girl read and then said, ‘I can't see the pictures but I'll tell you what I imagine.’ One boy, with autism, read more than half an hour on a tape and remained focused on his reading! Last week I served as Grandma. It was Grandparents day and I filled in. One student, Michael, introduced me to many teachers in the building. He would say, ‘This is my Grandma. She reads braille, too.’ He's proud of it!”
Other adults are also mentoring students. They are very enthusiastic about their experiences. Could you join them? If you could, or if you know of a student who could benefit from this program, please contact the following:
WisBrl will provide the mentors payment for transportation to and from the mentee’s location.