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Shawswick Teacher Helping Student Learn Braille

Last updated on Wednesday, December 26, 2012

(BEDFORD) - Third grade Shawswick Teacher Heather Patterson is helping one of her students, Joseph “Joey” Sullivan, to learn Braille.

The Times-Mail reports that Sullivan has optic atrophy, a degeneration of the optic nerve, which leads to irreversible loss of vision. Lynn Burch, a Joint Services vision consultant who has been working with Sullivan since kindergarten says Sullivan's condition made reading difficult, leaving him frustrated, especially when seeing how easy it was for his peers.

Sullivan uses large-print books and worksheets are enlarged for him to make reading letters easier, but reading print is a struggle.

Burch began teaching Sullivan Braille last year and got him a braillewriter. Patterson is also learning Braille to help Sullivan.

A couple of times a day, when the rest of the class is at lunch or doing morning work, Patterson and Joseph practice braille.

Sullivan is currently learning basic braille, but soon will be ready for contracted braille, which is abbreviated forms of words.

Joseph is considered legally blind, but he doesn't require any assistive devices to get around. His mother, Crystal Sullivan, said doctors can't really say how much vision he has.

Part of what makes it so difficult to recognize letters is the condition, opsoclonus, which is a sequence of erratic, jerky movements of both eyes, in a horizontal direction.

His mom said she can see a difference in his confidence and he always looks forward to going to school.

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