Touching the News: Tactile Graphics

I remember back in middle school when my social studies teacher required every student to clip an article from the newspaper each week to discuss in class. Some of those discussions were informative while others brought out strong emotions as I put myself in another's shoes! Things have changed a bit since then, with digital news and social media, but the goal of incorporating current events into the classroom remains the same.

Current events foster thoughtful classroom conversations and build students' capacities for critical thinking, emotional engagement, ethical reflection, and deepens their perspective.

News Headlines

Let's take a quick peak at a couple of recent news headlines:

Currently, the eyes of the world are focused on Ukraine as the 40-mile Russian convoy heads to Kyiv. Does your BLV student know where Russia's troops are positioned near Ukraine?

Do not overlook other news headlines!

Did you follow the Tonga volcano eruption? This volcano plume set a world record!

NASA's Perseverance Rover recently landed on the surface of Mars. The oddly colored parachute contained a secret code!

Get your hands on the pictures making the news!

These three recent news headlines have accompanying tactile graphics with braille labels for students/adults who want to dive deeper into the news. Created by the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the Touching the News program takes current events and creates a ZIP folder containing files for producing tactile graphics on 8.5 x 11-inch paper, portrait:

  • PRNs for ViewPlus Columbia/Delta, APH PixBlaster, IRIE BrailleTrac/BrailleSheet
  • PDFs for Swell, Microcapsule or PIAF
  • Reference PDFs with corresponding large print text (not for tactile production)

Also included are links to additional information on the news topic.

Touching the News website

Current Events in the Classroom

Current events impact our students' lives - either now or in the future. Just think for a minute about how the Pandemic has impacted our lives and how adults and students were stalking the news for information from CDC, closures, supply chain issues, etc. COVID impacted everyone, world-wide. Now our thoughts are on the Russian-Ukraine War and how it is impacting people there; this war has an impact on economy as well - take a look at the rising gas prices! Classrooms are learning more about Ukraine, where it is located, what resources the country has, and the heart-breaking and courageous stories about the Ukraine people.

Remember the goals of incorporating current events? Both COVID and Russia's war on Ukraine created opportunities for students to build critical thinking, to be emotionally engaged, to have ethical reflection, and to deepen their perspective. A deep dive into these heavy topics are not appropriate for all students. However, there are many other educational topics in the news, such as the Tonga volcano (science) and the Perseverance Rover on Mars (space). If you are like me, I had to look up Tonga on the map and discovered many new things when I researched a bit more about the island and the volcano. Tie these current events into geography, not only where the event happened but also a world view perspective of events. While Tonga sounds like a long way from the us, the impact of that eruption caused a tsunami that even reached the U.S. Pacific coastline. How about placing a large tactile world map in your classroom and placing pins in each location as you read current events?

I wonder what new things I will learn with next week's current event . . .