The AuthorLouise Johnson is an award winning visually impaired teacher (Utah Schools For The Deaf And Blind Teacher Of The Year 1992-1993, Ruth Craig Award for Meritorious Service and Outstanding Lifetime Contributions to the Blind and Visually Impaired 2002) with 30+ years of experience in the field of visually impaired education. For the last 16 years, she taught at Westmore Elementary in Orem, Utah, until her retirement in 2002.
Where The Book Came FromLouise Johnson writes:
Because my father was involved with the Lion's Club, I became interested in working with the blind as a child. We had a blind couple in our home town who were very capable and a good example to the rest of the community.
When my children were small, I learned braille and brailled books for the library.
As the children grew older, I began looking for meaningful work. I had three criteria:
- It had to involve helping people.
- It had to require the use of my college degree.
- It had to require me to keep learning.
So I went to school to become a teacher of the visually impaired.
While I was going to school, I worked as a braillist for a school district. After graduation, I worked as a parent infant advisor (birth to three years old), then an itinerant teacher. When I went to work for the School for the Blind, I found what I was looking for. I became a teacher in a classroom which was partially self-contained, partly mainstreamed–depending upon the needs of the children. I felt I had the perfect program, so there I stayed for the next 16 years.
My classroom was made up of visually impaired children ages 4 to 11, with various degrees of disability. Most students were included in sighted classrooms for part of the day.
One of the problems I had was coordinating the curriculum so that my students were learning the same subjects as the sighted students with adaptations for their visual impairments. In kindergarten, the sighted students were learning alphabet and alphabet sounds, but 90% of the teaching was done with pictures that my students could not see.
So I devised the Kester Braille Reading Program, Level One, to make the learning fun for my students.
The next step after alphabet and alphabet sounds was learning three-letter words with the short vowel sound. This was the reason for writing Level 2.
I believe in teaching reading and writing at the same time, so much of the program involves the use of both.
After my students completed Level 2, I put the children in a first grade reader written in uncontracted braille. I always tried to use the reader the other children in the classroom were using so my students could feel a part of the class.
When the child could read on a first grade level, I then began the children with no learning disabilities in the "Patterns" program. At the same time I would have the second grade reader which was used in the sighted classrooms brailled, using contractions, and taught the contractions as they were introduced in the reading.
I have been fortunate to receive awards for my work including Teacher of the Year, and the Ruth Craig Award for Meritorious Service and Outstanding Lifetime Contributions to the Blind and Visually Impaired from the Utah chapter of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER).
I have also published several articles in magazines such as Re:View and the National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI).
I was once featured in the Salt Lake Tribune in an article entitled "Everyday Heroes, Acts That Count."
Because of all of this, I decided to write down the method that worked so well for me and share it with others.
I hope it works as well for you as it did for me.