Chartiers Valley students get eye-opening look at reading Braille
By Megan Guza
Published: Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
An assignment on Kurt Vonnegut Jr. had Chartiers Valley High School students learning to read all over again.
The 10th-grade English class began reading “Harrison Bergeron” as an assignment from teacher Denise Bohn. In the story, the government forces equality onto citizens through a handicapping system.
Bohn thought the perfect introduction to the story was learning about Braille. Sophomore Noah Lorenzato, who is in the class, is legally blind and uses the Braille system for his English assignments.
The lessons started for several reasons.
“First, to give Noah's peers an understanding of how he reads, learns and writes using the Braille system,” she said.
She said Noah's vision instructor from the Allegheny Intermediate Unit put together the presentation so Noah's classmates — and other teachers and administrators — could become more familiar with Braille.
“During the presentation, the students and teachers became very interested in learning more,” she said.
“We decided to have ongoing lessons throughout the year to learn the basic tenets of Braille.”
The lessons consisted rotations through different learning stations, including books on exploring Braille, decoding Braille riddles and other activities.
Bohn said the learning stations were a success.
“Everyone enjoyed the activities and learned how to recognize and understand the Braille system in a fun and exciting way,” she said. “Noah enjoyed helping his peers and teachers and was very proud of himself.”
“I got to teach my classmates stuff they didn't know,” Lorenzato said. “I felt happy that I accomplished something so important.”
Lorenzato's classmate, Halie Pattison, said the lessons were eye-opening.
“Reading normally is different than reading Braille,” she said. “I realized how much effort reading Braille takes and how much more Noah works on reading than an average student does.”
Bohn said the lesson goes further than that, though.
“The lesson helps build tolerance and acceptance of those with disabilities,” she said. “If students can develop an understanding of one another, they may be less likely to bully each other.”
Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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