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Tips for Teaching Phonics to Students with Visual Impairments

visually impaired girl smiling at camera, holding up a print/braille book

From the book Reading Connections: Strategies for Teaching Students with Visual Impairments by Cheryl Kamei Hannan and Leila Ansari Ricci

Teaching phonics to students with visual impairments should follow the same scope and sequence of letter-sound correspondence used for students who do not have visual impairments. However, since use of vision can affect learning, it is critical to refer to a student’s functional vision assessment and learning media assessment when determining what media to use when teaching symbols. Conducting a complete functional vision assessment will assist the teacher with developing or selecting instructional materials for teaching phonics skills.

When teaching students about letter sounds, the following teaching tips are essential:

  • Introduce one sound per letter at first (for example, only the hard /k/ sound of c as in the word “cat” and not the soft /s/ sound as in “cent”.)
  • Teach students to stretch sounds (such as /mmmm/ and /ssss/).
  • Eliminate the /uh/ sound that is often attached to certain consonants (for example, p is said /p/ and not /puh/; b is said /b/, not /buh/).
  • Introduce the most frequently used letters first (a,s,t are used more often than x or q).
  • Ensure that students have mastered initial letter sounds before gradually introducing others.

For more phonics reading tips for teaching print and braille readers, check out Reading Connections: Strategies for Teaching Students with Visual Impairments, available in the AFB Store at

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