It's the cutest sight upon arrival. Two toddlers running around the splash pad at Tempe Marketplace with their probing canes.
A couple of mentors who care for and teach the little ones and who are also blind, are right by their side.
18-month-old Alyssa and 2-year-old Gavin are two of the several toddlers who are a part of a two-week program called BELL (Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning).
The National Federation of the Blind of Arizona brought BELL to Phoenix for the first time after having it in Tucson for the last three years.
The program focuses on helping blind children and toddlers create a positive attitude towards learning Braille.
"They're able to put their finger on the page (book) and track the Braille and read Braille in their own way," said Amy Porterfield, the coordinator of the program and the chief of operations for SAAVI (Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired).
The two-week program also focused on the kiddos learning how to engage through arts, outdoor activities, crafts, field trips and even how to use a probing cane.
"It's not what you can see, it's what you can do," said Porterfield.
Porterfield emphasized the importance for the students to understand their value in society and their capabilities while being blind.
“Today, despite the fact that Braille literacy is one of the highest predictors of success for blind youth, only one in ten blind children are learning Braille in school. We are raising a generation of functionally-illiterate blind children who are unable to read or write as well as their peers because they don’t have the correct tools or training," said Donald Porterfield, the president of NFBAZ (National Federation of the Blind of Arizona) in a release.
Alyssa and Gavin will graduate Friday after the two-week program.
Porterfield said that the program will return next summer and encouraged all families who have a visually impaired or low-vision child to enroll.
If you would like to get more information about the program, click here.
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