Saturday, September 13, 2014

How important braille literacy is.

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

Sighted people learning braille.

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

Adventures on public transit.

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

A reminder of our radio show blog.

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

Article on the iliad in our local newspaper.

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.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Scary traffic.

I heard this morning that a blind person I know was hit by a car recently.  Was not their fault and no one was hurt.  it made me stop and think as I traveled the sidewalks and streets this morning.  I usually think of traffic as helpful in that its movement allows me to read traffic lights.  For example, if there is no audible signal and I arrive at an intersection, I listen for cars moving the way I wish to move.  Then I know it is safe to cross.  I learned this from a young age and so was not too afraid of traffic.  It helped me get around.  I  have had close calls with bad drivers though which always shakes you up.  So glad no one was hurt and thanks to the paramedics for checking out the guide dog and putting the guide dog in the ambulance too.

Monday, June 2, 2014

More iliad links.

Thanks for the great responses on the Iliad and my blog post.

Find here some links for more information, blogs, and tickets.

Two Women Productions is one of the presenters of this day-long work.

The two women are our artistic directors and they also blog about their experiences at

Link for ticket master is

It would be wonderful to see you at the performance.

Posted by Kim

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Storytelling most accessible (working through the iliad for our performance on june 14 2014)

I am lucky to be one of eighteen Storytellers bringing alive Homer’s iliad.  We will be performing it on June 14.  The day will last 12 hours with about 8 plus hours of storytelling.

We did this two years ago with Homer’s odyssey and it was a wonderful experience.

this past weekend, we had our full run through of the story.

When I first read it last summer, it did not immediately jump off the page and come alive.

I had trouble figuring out who was who and what was going on.

but, as I listened to the many varied voices bringing the story to life last weekend, the story came alive.  I found myself on the edge of my seat, drinking in every word.  The images were vivid and clear.  The many different timbres of voice were so wonderful.

In these modern days of TV, movies, etc, people who are blind need good audio description to follow many of them.

This is the best audio description ever.  Straight from Homer many hundreds of years ago.

I know there are many translations but this work was meant to be heard.

No props, no costumes, just the words, the voice timbres and the vivid language.

I am so looking forward to being part of it again and allowing my voice to bring forth the story.

Please come and join us and share with your friends too.

For more go to

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sorry for the long lapse in blogging and the junk posts.

I’m so sorry for the long lapse in blogging.

It has been a very busy winter.  My spring resolution is to blog more again.

Also, I am sorry for the junk posts that I found on this blog recently.  I have cleaned them up.

Unless you see posted by Kim at the bottom, don’t read or take them seriously.

Posted by Kim

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A new appreciation of family.

It has been ages since I blogged.  Several family members were facing major crises and that took up all of my time and energy.  Fortunately, things are resolving and I feel I can breathe and blog again.  Over the past couple of months, I have learned so much about the resilience of my family members.  I have admired their courage and strength when faced with extremely difficult and even life threatening situations.  Their tenacity and ability to keep going and keep moving forward.  I am lucky to have been born into their midst.  It is the same tenacity they showed when they learned I was blind and would always be blind.  Their attitude of “Okay.  This is how it is.  Now let’s go on living.”  Their example of positivity.  Their modelling for me that life is precious.  That everyone’s life is precious and valuable and that you can find ways to adapt and live.  Their great gift to me is this.  That you can always find a way on.  Not an easy way always.  Not a fun way always.  But a way to live and thrive and I thank them for that.  It has given me a tenacity, an ability to be creative and adapt what needs adapting, a stubborn independent nature.  But also a sense of humour and fun that helps in these times.  Thank you!  You know who you are!  With love.  Kim