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This checklist contains 5 items. These items will remind you of the proper techniques used when writing with the slate and stylus.

  1. Are you holding the stylus too tightly? If the top of the stylus is nestled under the base of your index finger, all your fingers can be quite relaxed. Let your fingers guide the point of the stylus around the cell and keep the stylus from falling over.
  2. Are you working for too long at a session? If you are resting your arm on the table or desk, you are making the dot by moving your hand up and down from the wrist. This exercises muscles located in your forearm. These are muscles that may not get much exercise as you go about your daily life. These muscles will strengthen in time as you continue to practice. But in the beginning, it is suggested that you start with short periods of practice and lengthen the time gradually.
  3. When you use the stylus as just described, you are using forearm muscles that connect to your hand through your wrist. Do you have a particular need to protect yourself from repetitive motion injury or aggravation of a medical condition, such as arthritis? If you do, try lifting your arm a little off the table so you can use your arm, your shoulder, and your body to push down on the stylus. Try sort of leaning into the push. Keep your wrist in a neutral position so that there is a straight line between your elbow and your knuckles.
  4. Are you not always sure whether you are going to make a top, middle, or bottom dot? If that is the case, remember that you can take all the time you need to position the stylus before you push down to make a dot. Use the end of the stylus as a feeler. Start by moving it against the right edge of the cell. Press gently against that right edge to feel the little humps and grooves. These define the top, middle, and bottom dot positions. Similarly, the left edge has humps and grooves. Take your time to position the stylus and when you're ready, push down to make the dot.
  5. Do you sometimes braille letters backwards? Remember that when you are reading braille, you start from the left. Your fingers first come to dots 1, 2, and 3, the top, middle and bottom dots on the first side. Your fingers then move across the cell to feel dots 4, 5, and 6, the top, middle and bottom dots on the second side. When you write braille beginning at the right, you also first come to dots 1, 2, and 3, the top, middle and bottom dots on the first side. You then cross the cell to dots 4, 5, and 6 the top, middle and bottom dots on the second side. For example, when either reading or writing the letter p, you come to, or write, dots 1, 2, and 3 first, that is, the top, middle, and bottom dots on the first side. You then move across the cell to find or press dot 4, the top dot on the second side. Always press the first side dots first and then the second side dots.

(Submitted by: Susan Fisher; Last updated: May 24, 2013)

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