Braille Is Beautiful – “Jake and the Secret Code”

A Review by Carol Castellano

          Many schools today hold disability awareness activities designed to expose and familiarize students with the issues faced by people with various disabilities.  Braille Is Beautiful, a new program from the National Federation of the Blind, is the perfect vehicle for raising “blindness awareness.” 

          The Braille Is Beautiful Video Set is a kit intended to introduce sighted children of elementary school age to Braille as a fun and interesting method of reading and writing.  Along the way, students will receive a positive message about blindness and the abilities of blind people.  The main components of the Braille Is Beautiful Video Set are a 15-minute video, “Jake and the Secret Code,” a teacher’s discussion guide, and a second short video, “That the Blind May Read.” 

          “Jake and the Secret Code” tells the story of a sighted nine-year-old boy who gets separated from his mother, also sighted, during a shopping trip at the National Center for the Blind.  He wanders into the office of Mr. Chong, a blind staff member.  He becomes fascinated by Mr. Chong’s ability to read “bumps on a blank page” and in the course of his short visit, learns a great deal about Braille, blindness, and what blind people can do.  Jake tells Mr. Chong that his mother is nervous about being around blind people.  Mr. Chong shares a secret for helping people feel more comfortable.  When she is finally reunited with her son, Jake’s mom is shocked to realize that the person who has been taking care of him while he was lost is blind!  Jake is happy to share what he has learned about blindness and Braille with his mother, including the secret for helping her feel comfortable. 

          Among the many things that students will see in this video are blind people engaged in a host of activities and the many kinds of equipment blind people use to read and write, such as a slate and stylus, a talking computer, and a Braille printer. 

          The 29-page teacher’s discussion guide provides background information, group discussion questions, and a simple lesson plan for introducing Braille writing with the slate and stylus.  The guide ends with six pages of resources which teachers can use to extend learning.  The program can be used in one or more class sessions. 

          The second video, “That the Blind May Read,” explains the literacy crisis that confronts young blind students today and provides excellent background information for the teacher.  This moving video was developed with adults in mind but can certainly be used with older students.  The teacher’s discussion guide also provides instructions for the use of this video with a group.

Braille Is Beautiful is a wonderful teaching tool for the classroom, youth groups, scout troops, and other community organizations.  The two videos and teacher’s discussion guide makes planning a presentation easy.  A Braille alphabet card, a slate and stylus, and a stack of Braille paper round out this terrific package. 

For more information contact
National Federation of the Blind  *  (410) 659-9314  *  nfb@nfb.org