Building Better Books with Braille

Published: Apr 27 2021

Two hours south of Helen Keller’s home is the town of Trussville. Every elementary, middle and high school has the same mascot and the district prides itself on “One Trussville.” So it stands to reason that when 15 visually impaired students lacked resources to help them stay on pace, their peers stepped up. Led by two Fund for Teachers Fellows, elementary students learned how to braille through a year-long elective called “Build A Better Book,” an effort that drew the heartfelt thanks of parents and the interest of twelfth grade engineering students.

Today we visit with April Chamberlain, technology director for Trussville City Schools. At the time of her fellowship, April was a librarian who, with the district’s four other librarians, researched best practices modeled by Chicago-area school libraries to redesign how students work with space, time, resources and community mentors in order to explore, create and publish using new media. She holds a bachelors and master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and is actively involved in the Alabama Leaders of Educational Technology, Alabama Digital Literacy Computer Science Course of Study Committee and Task Force, @TechBirmingham, and International Society for Technology in Education. April is now the technology coordinator for Trussville City Schools and when we learned how she is facilitating students’ efforts to create adaptive resources for visually-impaired peers, we had to find out more.