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A Student’s Experience Winning a Polly

A young boy with glasses and light-colored hair smiles as he poses for a photo.

Fourth grader Russell Dorn put all three of his entries into an access technology raffle at the National Federation of the Blind convention in July. His hopes were realized when he won a Polly from APH. We spoke with Russell about his experience with this braille learning tool.

A smiling APH employee with a mustache and glasses poses with a young boy who has light-colored hair and glasses and is holding a Polly. They are in front of the APH booth in a convention hall.

Polly is an electronic Wi-Fi enabled braille learning device that teaches reading, typing, writing, vocabulary, and spelling in both contracted and uncontracted braille using a gamified approach. With immediate feedback, incorporation of music, and competitive games, Polly puts the fun into learning braille! This device includes multiple input methods, a speaker for instruction and feedback, and an online teacher portal that allows remote access and progress monitoring for educators/parents. Polly contains both a 6-dot braille keyboard and an electronic slate to accommodate the preference of the user.

A smiling boy with light-colored hair wearing a tie-dye shirt stands with two women and a man in front of a photo backdrop with two sets of Monarch Butterfly wings on it. The APH logo and the Monarch logo are visible on the background in the bottom right hand corner.

After Russell received his device, he played a couple of its braille learning games: Whack a Key and Whack a Braille, which was his favorite. To play Whack a Braille, Russell explained, “A single dot goes up on the bigger braille display that has two cells, and then you push it down with your finger. You have to do it as fast as possible.” Russell recommends others purchase Polly because, “It’s really fun… and you learn a lot through these basic games.” He believes that if his teacher at the Kansas State School for the Blind gave him the Polly to use in class, it would occupy his time for about an hour and help him brush up on his braille contractions. Russell’s teacher also encourages him to continue practicing his braille skills. Last year, Russell composed a Christmas story in braille and enjoys labeling his belongings with a braille label maker.

A young boy with light-colored hair writes on a piece of paper with simple arithmetic problems on it. On the surface he is working on, there is also an APH light-touch Perkins Brailler and a LEGO Braille Bricks box.

Along with Polly, Russell utilizes other APH products in school including the APH Light-Touch Perkins Brailler®, Building on Patterns, Tactile World Globe, Tactile Town: 3-D O&M Kit, and LEGO Braille Bricks. He loves creating cities using LEGO Braille Bricks and Tactile Town during his time in school. Russell said to all of APH, “Thank you everyone for being able to give us so many great things.”

To learn more about Polly, visit the Polly shopping page.

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