Writing Blind

Apr 30, 2018 | Posted by Nathan King


Imagine a lightless world, full of sound, touch, and smell, but absent of color, visible texture, and sight. In their reading and writing studies, most students rely heavily on their sense of sight, but what about students who are unable to see? Can IEW be effectively employed to teach writing to the blind?

The answer is yes! Blind students absolutely are still able to use most of IEW's methodology, but with a few modifications. To begin with, most of the content building that they would do would be dictated. Recitation is already embedded in Structure and Style™ because the student builds sentences verbally from the key word outline in order to test it. In the case of a blind student, those verbalized sentences would simply be written down by the teacher or parent or dictated into a voice dictation program on the computer.

Revising the text presents its own challenges since the child cannot see the text to find places to put in his dress-ups, sentence openers, decorations, etc. However, if the parents have the capability of printing what they've typed up in braille, the student may have no trouble reviewing the text on his own, then dictating where and how he’d like to modify his draft to someone who can type it.

Unit 5, Writing from Pictures, will require a few adjustments. These exercises can be challenging for blind students, and it may be necessary for the teacher or parent to either verbally describe the scene for them or draw over the back of the picture to make the lines of the drawing raised so that the student can perceive them. The main point is for the student to ask himself questions about what is going on in the picture and create an event description as a result. In other words, the drawn picture is not intrinsically essential. A verbally created image also works.

Many of the challenges associated with teaching IEW to blind students can be self-resolved if the student is already typing and can use a screen reader. The conversation of when to introduce blind students to keyboard typing is outside the scope of this article. In any case, much of what IEW's methodology builds on is helping students learn how to ask thoughtful questions to shape their written expression and thus train them how to think—no sight required. With a few simple modifications, Structure and Style™ can be an effective tool to teach writing to the blind.


Nathan King, the customer marketing manager for IEW, grew up as the son of a pastor in Wichita, Kansas. Following his graduation from Manhattan Christian College and Kansas State University with a degree in secondary education in history, he worked for thirteen years as a youth pastor in his hometown. Since he began working for IEW, Nathan has enjoyed both the marketing and customer service sides of his position. Nathan and his wife of thirteen years, Melissa, homeschool their four children, but it is his amazing wife that does the lion’s share of this vital mission!

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