Loana K. Mason


Ferrell, Kay Alycin, 1948-

Committee Member

Luckner, John L.

Committee Member

Milian, Madeline

Committee Member

Jackson, Lewis (Lewis B.)


Special Education


University of Northern Colorado

Type of Resources


Place of Publication

Greeley (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created





320 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


A synthesis of research pertaining to literacy for students with visual impairments discovered one piece of scientifically-based evidence (as defined by the No Child Left Behind Act) on braille mechanics published in the last 50 years that contradicted what is considered best practice. Therefore, this investigation constructively replicated the research of Hermelin and O'Connor (1971) to determine if their findings of a left-index finger advantage for speed and a left-middle finger advantage for accuracy were valid, especially when compared to two-handed braille reading techniques utilizing the index and middle fingers. A convenience sample of 15, congenitally blind, contracted braille users who attended four different residential schools for the blind read a series of braille symbols, words, and passages using their preferred hand and finger usage patterns and nine randomly ordered hand and finger usage patterns involving the index and middle fingers. In order to evaluate various aspects of braille mechanics, hand and finger movements were videotaped from below a transparent reading surface. These videos were then analyzed to calculate fluency rates (measured as correct words per minute) and dominant reading finger(s) (measured as the finger(s) most frequently used to read the current line of text and to engage in scrubbing or retracing). Data were also collected via reports from parents, teachers of students with visual impairments, and students regarding personal attributes and instructional characteristics that had the potential to impact braille literacy. A series of Analyses of Variance and Multiple Linear Regressions provided support for two-handed reading techniques. Even when eliminating hand and finger usage patterns added to this investigation, the left hand advantage found by Hermelin and O'Connor was not confirmed. Interaction effects revealed a left-index finger advantage for proficient readers and a right-index finger advantage for struggling readers. Finally, participants without additional disabilities who had always attended a school for the blind, whose primary language was English, and who preferred tactual learning attained the highest word and passage fluency scores. Given the significance of the dominant reading finger(s), per these results, more research is needed to better understand the specific role each finger plays during various reading tasks.


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