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Literacy for Children with Combined Vision and Hearing Loss

Strategy 1: Provide opportunities for children to experiment with a variety of writing materials and methods

What to Do

  • Provide a variety of things to write with 
    • Markers (bold lines, high-contrast colors)
    • Smelly markers
    • Crayons
    • Stamps and stamp pads
    • Paint (try a paintbrush, fingers, feet, sponge)
    • Manipulative letters (magnetic, tactile, foam, etc.)
    • Technology (keyboards, adapted keyboards, Brailler
  • And to write on
    • Paper (white, colored, lined)
    • Textured paper
    • Raised line paper
    • Quick draw paper
    • Marker board
    • Chalk board
    • White board
    • Slant board
  • Teach the child the names of all the writing materials (e.g., pencil, paper, markers, crayons, etc.)
  • Place the materials in a location that is easily accessible to the child.  For children with significant physical disabilities, provide a means to request opportunities to write
  • Engage the child in exploring writing materials multiple times daily
  • Allow the child to choose why to write, what to write about, what to write with, and what to write on
  • Take turns writing with the child. Use your turn to model the next thing you want the child to learn. Observe what the child is doing and determine what the next writing stage will be. If the child is making vertical marks, you might choose to model horizontal or circular marks. If the child is making letter-like marks, you might model the first letter of the child’s name.
  • Celebrate the child’s writing attempts by sharing, posting, or publishing

Things to Consider

  • What will “writing” look like for the child? 
    • Typical children begin writing by scribbling at a young age. A child writing with an alternate pencil or a keyboard will scribble by producing random letters. When writing with symbols or words, children will make random choices. Accept and respond to these early writing attempts just as you would for a typical child – praise them, celebrate them, and attach meaning to them (i.e., “You wrote me a letter! I’m going to put it on the refrigerator so everyone can see it!”).
  • Where is the child in the stages of writing development?
  • Are you using materials and activities that are interesting and engaging to the child?
  • Are the writing materials accessible to the child given the child’s level of vision, hearing, and motor abilities?
    • A child with no functional vision could benefit from writing tools that provide tactile or auditory feedback such as Braille letter magnets or text-to-speech software on the computer.
    • Adapted writing
    • If the child is not physically able to use a typical pencil or Braille writer, are you providing an Alternate Pencil?
  • Are you being a good writing model, by allowing the child to see or feel you writing as you talk/sign about what you are doing and why?
  • Are you giving the child time to freely explore the writing materials using all senses?
  • Are you allowing the child to set the pace of the activity?


Always Ask Yourself