Anna Swenson Listen to Anna Swenson’s advice about things parents can do at home to help support their child’s communication skills.


Hello. My name is Anna Swenson, and I’m a teacher of students with visual impairments in the Fairfax County Schools in Fairfax, Virginia.

How can parents and other family members support their child’s acquisition of skills related to communication skills, and what would you like to ask families to do at home?

Whether your child uses print or braille, encourage reading and writing at home. Read aloud to develop vocabulary and comprehension skills. Consult with a teacher or librarian about motivating books at your child’s reading level.

If your child is not reading for pleasure, it may be time to update the literacy media assessment to see if a change in the primary reading medium or optical aid would be appropriate.

If your child is learning braille as a primary or secondary reading medium, learn braille yourself. All parents are busy, but there are many resources available to meet individual learning styles and time constraints. These include printed materials, such as Just Enough to Know Better, a book written specifically for parents who are interested in learning the basics of braille. It’s published by National Braille Press, and the website is

Online tutorials are another option. One example: Dots for Families from the Outreach Program of the Arizona State School for the Blind.

Finally, the Hadley School for the Blind offers several levels of free correspondence courses to family members who want to learn braille. Course descriptions are available at

Whatever option you choose, you’ll find that your knowledge of braille will enable you to share literacy activities with your child more effectively and pleasurably.