Monday, February 22, 2016
Saturday, September 13, 2014
When I started school, I learned braille.
I learned to read and write braille quickly as I wanted to read and write for myself so very much.
I was motivated.
I learned the system of braille.
Each braille cell is made up of six dots. Different combinations of those dots make up letters. There are also short forms and special symbols for common words, for number signs, for music etc.
I learned to read braille using a perkins brailler.
This type of machine has been around for many many years, even decades.
I also learned using a slate and stylus. This is even an older tool and even Louis Braille who invented braille in France used something like it.
With this, you actually write from right to left, punching holes through the paper.
It is slower than the big heavy brailler, but it is also quieter, lighter to carry, and so the tool of choice in classes.
Now, I have a special braille device which I can use paired with my phone or computer.
It has braille cells that refresh so I can read braille that comes from my smart phone ipod, or computer.
Also it has a braille keyboard and I can write in braille and then send it to anyone as print.
This is miraculous and so wonderful to use.
As technology changed and blind people began using screen reading software (software that reads what you are typing on a regular keyboard and also reads to you what is on your phone or computer screen) some people said,
“Blind people don’t need braille. They can listen to screen readers. They can also use dictation software to dictate things.
Why would they need braille."
Yes I know how to touch type very quickly.
Yes I use screen reading software on my computer and phone. I am using it now.
But what I love to use most is still braille.
Braille is literacy.
Learning to spell, read, write, take notes in classes, read notes for a presentation, label things in my house, braille is the best still for all of these things.
Thank you Louis Braille for inventing it.
I truly believe all blind people should at least try to learn braille and all blind children should surely learn it.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Yesterday, someone asked me about learning braille.
usually, sighted people who want to learn braille do so for the following reasons:
1. They themselves are losing vision or have a hereditary condition such as RP which means that they might lose vision in the future.
2. They have a family member or close friend who is blind.
3. They want to become a special education teacher.
This person had none of those reasons. He talked about developing his other senses more and about braille being like learning a new language. This is true.
I wonder though, if someone is fully sighted, how strong the temptation is to look at the dots instead of touching them?
I never had this issue as I have been totally blind since birth.
Some of my earliest memories are of being read to by my family or listening to records of folktales and stories.
No wonder I am now a professional storyteller.
I grew frustrated as my family members never read for long enough.
They would claim tiredness, or they were too busy, or their voice was giving out.
I wanted to read for myself so I could do so whenever and wherever I wanted to.
As I’ve mentioned in my stories before, I could read in the dark, at night, when I was supposed to be sleeping, and not get caught. I could read in moving vehicles and not get sick. I could read with the book under my desk at school. I could read during power outages.
People often say that braille seems complicated. WAs it harder to learn?
For me, no. I learned fast. I was motivated. I learned it when I was six. I wanted to learn to read and write so much I was driven to learn it and loved it from that moment on.
My next post will talk about braille literacy and why it is so important even with all of our fancy technology.
Monday, September 8, 2014
So the other day, I got onto the city bus with my guide dog.
she got on the bus, went and found a seat, and tucked herself away under it.
Then, a lady across from us, started talking to the dog.
“Oh look at you. Aren’t you a pretty dog.” Etc. My guide sat there like the professional she is.
I patted her head and stroked her silky ears.
Then, the lady said very loudly, “I couldn’t imagine anything worse than being blind."
I said nothing. For one thing, here she is on a bus alone and here I am on a bus with a beautiful, intelligent dog.
I had just spent a while in a yoga class.
I was off to meet another storyteller so we could plan a show on the NAC fourth stage in the spring.
I have a radio show.
I teach people to use their technology.
I do web testing and teach braille.
I have great friends and family.
My life is full and rewarding.
So then, after she says that about nothing can be worse than being blind, she says,
“Excuse me lady but what is your dog’s name?"
I say nothing. As if I will tell her now after she commented that blindness was the worst possible fate.
Then after she asks me a second time, while I just sit and pat my dog, she says, “I guess you don’t want to tell me. Why would you not want to tell me the name of your dog?"
Hmmm I wonder why?
Monday, August 25, 2014
I met someone on the bus the other day who lamented my lack of blogging.
I plan to do it regularly again as it helps me find story ideas for storytelling.
If you do want to hear my actual voice and our wonderful radio show which is by, for, and about people with disabilities, please find it at the link below and stay tuned for more blogging.
I may move this blog as it seems to get hacked regularly these days.
Sorry for that.
Don’t click on any links, unless the post says “Posted by Kim”.
Friday, June 13, 2014
Tomorrow, I am one of 18 tellers performing in the iliad. What a great adventure it has been.
I wrote about it in the following article published in a local newspaper.