People Think Braille Is Not Useful
In this age of digital talking books, computers fitted with screen reader software, audio labeling systems like the Pen Friend, some believe that learning braille is no longer necessary for people with vision loss. It’s true that we have reached an age when more access to printed material is available than ever before. Senior citizens are told that braille is too hard; parents are told that there aren’t enough instructors and audio reading is a better choice anyway. If you ask my generation who grew up reading and writing braille, I think you would get a different reaction.
How Braille Is Useful in My Life
I save any heavy-duty plastic or card stock for labeling everything from spices to charger cords for all of my wonderful technology. When one of my note taking devices hiccups or crashes, I am grateful for old three by five inch address and phone number cards. Magnetic can labels help me find the tomato soup among identically shaped cans of cream of mushroom on the shelf. A few French knots on clothing labels aid me in locating the black tights among the brown ones in my sock drawer. A Perkins Brailler is close at hand near both my home and office computers to jot down a phone number or quick shopping list. A slate and stylus is in my purse and in my briefcase. I don’t worry about power outages or battery conditions. Even the note takers I use have braille displays so I can reference data by touch in a meeting or edit documents. Speech often misses that stray punctuation or sound alike word when I rely on a screen reader for this kind of task.
What Is Survival Braille?
What do I mean by survival braille? I believe unless neuropathy makes it impossible for a person to feel braille, knowledge of at least grade 1 or what they call today alphabet braille. Braille can be an advantage to any person experiencing vision loss. This is enough for you to read room numbers in a hotel, the floor buttons in an elevator, find the ladie’s room, and use a calendar or phone number.
You don’t need to get proficient enough to read a novel, but you won’t panic if left alone in an elevator and have to push buttons and check the large numerals on the door frame to learn how the panel is laid out. You won’t end up dropping Brussels sprouts instead of frozen strawberries into your punch. You can play Scrabble or Uno with a grandchild, keep track of small bits of information such as your flight and seat number, or directions on the side of a cake mix box. Sure there are high tech answers out there, but sometimes the reliability factor and low cost of using braille makes sense to use methods that have worked for centuries. Like most skills, the more you use them, the easier they get, too. If you are looking for ways to simplify and enhance your life after vision loss, then give braille a chance. It might surprise you how useful it is as a basic independent living skill.
Have you learned braille? If you have, share some ways you have found it useful in your life? If not, share your thoughts about why. Have you found it difficult to learn? Or have people discouraged you from learning it? Weather you know braille or not, share your comments with us in the section below.