Q. Once a student learns to read with TACK-TILES® , is it then difficult to transfer the ability to Braille embossed paper?
A. This is a common misunderstanding. One does not progress from reading TACK-TILES® to reading embossed Braille paper. Used properly, most of the time, TACK-TILES®, embossed paper, and a Braille writer are together on the student's desk at the same time, . TACK-TILES® are a supplement, not a replacement, for the tools we already have, for the experience we already have in teaching and learning Braille. TACK-TILES® have unique ability to capture and to hold the student's interest; which can then be redirected to the embossed standard Braille. This accelerates the rate at which the student comprehends the skill of reading Braille. TACK-TILES® have unique ability to demonstrate the plasticity of language, to deliver the enjoyment of reading and writing to the student much earlier into his or her pursuit. The advantage of manipulation that TACK-TILES® bring to math and music instruction is unparalleled.
Q. Can I just buy an alphabet?
That's all I really need.
We sell only complete systems. Though visual literacy training has undergone revolutionary changes, in most areas we still teach Braille much as we did in the 1800's. I watched my son fail under this process year after year. Finally, when he reached age fourteen, I understood that something more was desperately needed. His teacher disagreed. Nothing more was needed. My son was simply hopelessly disabled. I was simply "in denial." Who were we, his parents, to question nearly two centuries of "success" with "eligible blind children? To suggest that the deficit lay not in the make up of our child?
That falsehood, that nothing more is "needed," is TACK-TILES® sole competition in the world. We'd have a wealthy and prosperous business were it to disappear. Published statistics allow that ninety percent of America's blind and visually impaired citizens are illiterate. TACK-TILES® have a demonstrated ability to change that, but our competition sees little need to change it. TACK-TILES® have a demonstrated ability to vastly decrease the time it takes to become literate (this includes math, science, music notation as well as text), but our competition sees little need to decrease that time or free the resources of the student for, other "needs." TACK-TILES® have a demonstrated ability to remove the tedium of learning to read Braille, but but our competition sees little need to decrease the tedium. TACK- TILES® have a demonstrated ability to remove the "mystique" of Braille so that parents, spouses, siblings, and classmates can use Braille right along with the blind person, but our competition sees little need to decrease this isolation of the world of the blind. I could go on, but I doubt my reader would.
TACK-TILES® Braille Systems
are about literacy. And they are about spelling, rhyming, grammar,
syntax, malapropisms, cryptograms, and all else that supports
literacy, all else that makes Braille literacy a desirable pleasure
as opposed to a necessary evil. Wherever TACK-TILES® go, they
prove they are needed. They prove more are needed. Most of our
orders are either re-orders or orders from people who've used
sets and must return them to the owners. Within weeks of this
writing, one school district in the Southwest with over forty
literary sets in use beginning in 1995 placed orders for fifteen
mathematics and five music notation sets.
It is common for us to hear, "We don't need the entire system, all we need is the alphabet." Seldom do I feel free to pontificate as I have here. All that TACK-TILES® Braille Systems offer is greatly needed by teachers and students. Marketing less than is needed feeds that century old ignorance of of what can and ought to be done to promote universal Braille literacy. To give ground on that reality would quickly cause us to disappear from the world marketplace, TACK-TILES®, would soon disappear from the landscape. We'd be back where we began with no opposition to the canon that "nothing more is needed;" to an era when literacy was the absolute reserve of only the privileged among the blindand visually impaired.
Q. What do TACK-TILES® offer if no problems other than blindness are present?
A. TACK-TILES® offer both intra-personal and inter-personal advantages no other present-day tool alone can match.
I begin with the intra-personal advantages.
In the sighted world, pages of uninterrupted black on white text receive almost no reliance as a proper tool to bring forth language and literacy. This would discourage -- literally poison the courage -- of the learner. A sheet embossed with Braille can do this as well. Technology seduces the sighted learner through pictures, colors, attractive and varied sizes of fonts, interesting graphics, graphics shaped into letter forms, letters shaped into graphics, text wrapped around graphics, blackboards, chalk and erasers, animated letters, and much more. More is done each year to thwart fear and apprehension, because we fear that less than this might lead to illiteracy rates approaching that suffered by the blind and visually impaired (around 90% illiterate). TACK-TILES® seduce and sustain interest in learning to read as nothing else will.
Now to the inter-personal advantages of TACK-TILES® .
Literacy is mainly a social phenomenon, meant to bind society. The Braille student learning to read often isolated at crucial times from sighted peers. Brailled paper is not visually interesting. The student will have a difficult time sharing his Braille or his interest in it with peers. That student is being deprived of important aspects of literacy even if s/he's learning to read. From pre-school through late life, whenever TACK-TILES® are needed they lend themselves to sharing Braille with uninitiated peers, spouses, teachers, and family members. TACK-TILES® have a unique ability to introduce Braille to parents. With TACK-TILES® many parents are able to participate in Braille instruction with their own children, making that relationship more akin to that among sighted children and their parents. Many sets of TACK-TILES® are in the hands of blind parents, especially mothers, who share their TACK-TILES®, that is, their Braille with their sighted children.
One more advantage.
TACK-TILES® transfer understandings to a novice in a fraction of the time normally needed. With some multiply handicapped students, TACK-TILES® have transferred concepts that could not otherwise have been transferred. TACK-TILES® save TIME. Time is the "Achilles Heel" of disability. Neither the student nor the teacher can afford to waste even the slightest part of their time together.
Q. What is the best procedure for teaching with TACK-TILES® ?
A. The best procedure is that which the teacher and student find useful. The first time TACK- TILES were used successfully to teach the inventor's son, they were used in tandem with the MANGOLD training series. Since then they have been used successfully alongside most standard and established Braille instruction techniques. Many innovative approaches have developed from teaching with TACK-TILES®. With TACK-TILES®, recreation can begin despit the fact that Braille learning has not stopped, in fact Braille learning can be accelrated by "playing" with TACK-TILES®.
Q. Do TACK-TILES® encourage "scrubbing?"
A. Absolutely not! Being blind does not predispose a person's brain to be less capable of discretion. TACK-TILES® pose no more risk of scrubbing than do the keys on a Perkins Brailler. Neither TACK-TILES® nor the Brailler addresses the specific fingertip and cortical neurons needed to read standard Braille. When these are addressed, the finger pad and cortical neurons needed to operate the Brailler or take advantage of a TACK-TILE'S® information are not addressed. Neither tool has been known to induce scrubbing. Teachers using TACK-TILES® report no untoward impulse to scrub an embossed sheet. Sighted children, exposed to large type, very early in life, still learn to read normal type.
Q. What is the main contribution of TACK-TILES® when used with youngsters?
A. Communication. Normally, communication channels from the child to the teacher are quite constrained as opposed to the teacher to child communications. TACK-TILES® are VERY prone to altering this balance. TACK-TILES® have in their history some rather phenomenal events involving children without speech and autistic-like children interacting (through the medium of TACK-TILES® ) in ways the teachers had never before experienced.
Q. What is the significance of the colors? Is there a pattern.
A. The colors are to appeal to the sighted especially family members, classmates, and classroom teachers. Braille is unknown to these. The unknown is feared unless it is kept at a distance. The colors make Braille more approachable, less feared in general, therefore the student and his/ her Braille are more welcome.
There is no pattern. All the vowels are red. Many reversals and possible confusions are cast in the same color, ("d" and dropped "d" are yellow, for instance). Many teachers using TACK- TILES are blind or visually impaired. This provides them a defense against a student "cheating" by relying on colors s/he may be able to see.
Q. Are TACK-TILES® designed specifically for children's use?
A. No. The original use was with a young man going on to his fifteenth year. Good fortune allows that TACK-TILES® can be disguised as toys so that children enjoy learning with them, but they are not toys in truth. TACK-TILES® are used to teach pre-schoolers, elementary school children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly. They are used at universities to train teachers. They are used in workshops and meetings to make parents of blind children familiar with Braille. One teacher uses them to explain the work of the computer's word processor to her blind high school students. The more teachers they reach, the more uses they discover. A management training specialist has recently begun using them to sharpen business mangers in training's mental agility.
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