A comparative study of braille as a tactile orthography with the auditory orthography oval to teach reading to preliterate, English as an additional language, adult learners who have visual disabilities

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the affordances of the tactile orthography of braille in comparison with the newly developed auditory orthography of OVAL for teaching reading to preliterate, English as an Additional Language, adult learners who have visual disabilities. Seven adults who have visual disabilities, who learned braille after the typical reading development stage, that is, after the age of 10, and who are learning English as an Additional Language (EAL) joined the study from six different countries. The mixed-methods research assessed OVAL audeme retention after a period of training, surveyed and interviewed the participants on their attitude and perspectives towards both orthographies, and included observations by a certified braille and EAL instructor. Results showed a 71.29% average level of accuracy for OVAL audeme retention among the seven participants. For two participants, a comparison between OVAL audeme and braille letter retention yielded the following results: 100% for OVAL and 44.50% for braille. Survey and interview responses showed participants holding mixed views on the potential in OVAL. From the certified braille and EAL instructor perspective, both OVAL and braille meet the identified criteria and considerations of beginner reader programs for preliterate, EAL adults who have visual disabilities, although OVAL as an auditory orthography holds the potential to reduce at least some barriers and challenges inherent in a tactile orthography.
Orthography, Literacy, Braille, English as an Additional Language, Auditory orthography