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Braille by Mail: How Hadley Teaches Braille at a Distance

Are you new to Hadley and wondering how we teach braille at a distance? The Hadley School for the Blind has been teaching braille and many other subjects at a distance since 1920. Although there is an increasing prevalence of online and distance education courses, the concept of teaching braille this way raises a lot of questions. While there are many challenges to teaching braille by correspondence, Hadley has tried and true methods that have proven to be most effective. This Q & A answers some of the questions you may have about learning braille through Hadley.

Q: Who can take braille though Hadley?

A: Hadley teaches braille to both visually impaired and sighted students. Students across all four of Hadley's program areas -- Adult Continuing Education, High School, Family Education and Professional Studies -- are welcome to enroll.

Q: In what formats does Hadley teach braille?

A: Visually impaired students receive materials in both audio and braille formats. In the courses designed for the visually impaired learner, students learn to read braille tactually (using their fingertips). Students also learn to write braille using various braille writing tools, including the slate and stylus, a device used to emboss braille on paper and a braillewriter, a braille equivalent of a typewriter.

Sighted students learn braille a bit differently. Instead of feeling the dots with their fingers, students visually read black and white simulated braille. Hadley has also designed a braille simulator for computers in which six keys on the keyboard represent the six dot positions within a braille cell, similar to the braillewriter. Sighted students also learn to use the slate and stylus.

Q: Is learning braille difficult?

A: Learning braille for the first time can be challenging, but Hadley's self-paced courses allow students to learn at a rate that works for them, maximizing learning and comprehension. Since Hadley is a distance education school, instructors are not physically present with students. However, Hadley's unique "classroom of one" approach means that instructors are available when students have questions or problems -- either by phone or email.

Q: Is there a fee associated with taking Hadley braille courses?

A: Like all Hadley courses, braille courses are offered tuition-free for visually impaired students. Thanks to a federal braille grant, "Introduction to Braille" and "Contracted Braille" are currently free to sighted students.

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