Juno Magnifier on student desk
Juno Magnifier on student desk 

As teachers and parents, we plan a LOT when it comes to the education of our precious little ones. Especially with our kiddos who are blind or have low vision, as well as multiple disabilities, we plan to include not only the core curriculum areas but also Expanded Core Curriculum areas. We want them to learn an array of functional skills to match their educational skills. One especially important skill lies solidly in both camps and cannot be emphasized enough – literacy!  Easily accepted as academic and part of the core curriculum, I cannot think of a more functional life skill than literacy. Fostering this crucial skill set in our kiddos with multiple disabilities can take some extra effort and thought. Here are some helpful items to support you as the parent and teacher while you make literacy learning both fun and possible for the youngster(s) in your life!  

The Joy Player


The Joy Player is a control panel with five easy-push large buttons. These five buttons, which also have tactile markings for discrimination between them, open up the world of independent or assisted audiobook listening. Listening to music would likely be another perk your student would be excited to explore on the device.   

While some may be tempted to claim “cheating” with respect to literacy and audiobooks, research has actually suggested that the skill of listening to audiobooks is actually helpful in developing several important literacy skills and enhancing others, especially in students with learning disabilities! For more info on why listening is not “cheating” and the specific ways it can foster your child’s literacy skills, check out this article: https://readingpartners.org/blog/audiobooks/.  

The Juno


The Juno is a handheld magnifier that helps kiddos who have low vision by making smaller printed items accessible. Whether it is a homework assignment in school, the kids’ menu at a restaurant, a toy box in the store, or a sign at the doctor’s office, having a tool that will provide access to a variety of environmental print helps foster curiosity and independence in your student’s literacy development. Since the Juno uses a camera for its magnification, it allows for a variety of other tools and perks for its user as well. In addition to its literacy usefulness, your child or student will likely enjoy using their Juno for viewing an item located in the distance, activity and hobby participation, and even the self-viewing feature for personal grooming and hygiene tasks. All of these encourage consistent use, which in turn just can’t help but strengthen those literacy muscles along the way! 

The ReadWrite Stand:


All-In-One Board:


All in one board
All in one board

Ok, so I realize these are actually two items and technically throw off the “count” of literacy-building items, but they’re similar enough that we’re going to count it as one item in our list, and different enough that both options should be highlighted for the needs of different students and their abilities.  

The ReadWrite Stand helps large print readers by allowing materials to be secured to the board with a clip at the top, as well as viewing materials at a variety of angles. Young readers can experiment to find the level most comfortable for viewing and switch it up between items or activities. Using an angle for writing can also help reduce fatigue in your youngster, keeping items at a more ergonomic level.  

The All-In-One Board also allows your student to adjust the board’s angle to make the activity at hand most comfortable and accessible. It has a dry-erase surface and a soft surface designed to hold hook-and-loop type fasteners (Velcro) to the surface so that real objects can be affixed to it and held at the young learner’s preferred viewing angle. There is no built-in clip to hold papers, like the ReadWrite stand, but if the All-In-One Board would be more helpful to your child’s needs, then you could add an external fastener as needed to double it as a slant board.  

Tactile Connections: Symbols for Communication


This kit is for use by the teacher or parent to prepare an environment rich in opportunities for communication, concept development, and literacy development. It allows for a tactile card system to be created and tailored to each student’s learning level and unique individual environment. In supporting vocabulary and general concept development, you are building the critical connection your budding reader needs with the content they encounter in written materials. This is where literacy becomes functional for your youngster and paves the way for excitement in learning! 

The Polly


This one isn’t quite available yet, but here is a little sneak peek at a new device that could be an exciting asset to both you and your developing braille student.  

The Polly helps build new braille skills while reinforcing others with features that address phonics, letters, braille contractions, and various reading and writing games. Kiddos can practice typing on the keyboard and writing with the electronic slate during games. Teachers and parents can customize settings to match the needs of the individual child and build vocabulary and spelling lessons. Progress and assessment info are stored in accessible charts and graphs.  

Have fun! 

Whether it’s through large print, braille, or audio, literacy skills are crucial for our little ones who are blind or have low vision, as well as multiple disabilities. It builds their concept bank, reinforces real-life experiences, and opens the door to life-long learning.  If you’re looking for more resources on literacy development, you may find some helpful ideas here.  

Hopefully, you’ve found a tool or two that can help excite you and your student while building up their literacy skill set. Your attitude about learning and literacy is contagious, so remember to keep it fun for you both. Happy reading, friend! 

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