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Eagles Helping Eagles: 6th Graders Create Braille Doorplates

Eagles Helping Eagles: 6th Graders Create Braille Doorplates

The bell rings, and students rush out of their classrooms to navigate through the school to their next course. Students stop by their lockers and chat with friends as they walk through the halls. It’s easy for them to get to and from each class. However, the simplicity of moving from class to class isn’t the same for every student.

Fellow classmates who are blind cannot easily navigate. They need to know their route to classes, and if they get lost or sidetracked, they rely on a room’s braille doorplate to figure out where they are. Over the years, the braille on the several plates have been picked off or worn down.

To fix this, 6th graders in Mr. David Yonteff’s computer science class designed new plates for every Middle School room. They used a program called Tinkercad, which is an online 3D design program.

“It was challenging,” Yonteff said about the Project Lead the Way. “They had to learn about braille and how braille actually operates and works. And then they needed to actually understand it well enough to have it spaced properly on the place and everything.”

“We even got to learn how to read a few braille letters and numbers, which was really cool,” 6th grader Skyelar Langlois said.

The class designed several dozen plates. They are now gray with red numbering and braille, which embodies Beekmantown’s school colors. While the old plates were gray and white.

“I, personally, feel like I’m making a change, and I really love helping people,” 6th grader Shane Letourneau said about working on the project. “I try my best to be kind to everybody, and I'm really happy that I can help some people.”

Yonteff wanted to make sure that not only was the project done well, but for students to understand the importance of why it was being updated. To help explain this, he had BCSD Teacher of the Blind Christina Work present to the students.

“I just recorded myself with a man who's totally blind,” Work said. “It showed him going into a public building and what different difficulties he has to face like where the braille signage was and how he always looks to the right and sometimes the signs that there are hidden by the door. So the students were able to see firsthand what happens.”

Work was thrilled to see how invested the students were at creating the doorplates. Students discussed ideal placement of the plates and what rooms needed them.

“The more we can include kids on education and learning what it’s like to have a kid with a disability in the classroom, the better it gets for all of them because that’s knowledge they’ll have for the rest of their lives,” Work said.

Yonteff will be working with Buildings and Grounds to help install them by their assigned room, and he hopes to work with more students create doorplates for the rest of the school.