Recently, I read an article about a man who was born blind, but was never taught Braille until he was in his 20’s. He shared his frustration with reading (he was forced to learn to read visually which would strain the eyesight he had) and how it caused him pain and frustration. After acquiring Braille he was able to read easily and discovered that he loved to read. Braille is a unique way of experiencing the written word, something that could open up many new passions and worlds for people with blindess. It’s partially thanks to this man’s story that I have decided to learn Braille, at one point (middle school) I could read my name, now the only word I can read in Braille is “Google.” One would think I would be able to also read “Dialogue in the Dark” by sight as much as I’ve seen their printed Braille plastered all over Atlanta (I was probably too busy rolling my eyes). I’m hoping to add a few words, and maybe even sentences to my repertoire. Since I’m partially sighted I catch myself cheating and doing some of the learning visually. I’m also approaching this from many different angles. I’m borrowing both a BrailleNote and Perkins Brailler from a friend to aid my acquisition of this new form (for me) of reading and writing. I have always loved to read, it was a favorite past time as a child and remains something I enjoy today, thanks to advances in technology I don’t have to carry around large print books printed on 11×17 paper anymore, all my “print” material can be stored on my iPad or Kindle and read easily, or be read to me with a screen reader. I look forward to learning how to read through touch, although I know it will be a fairly trying task at first.
I really like the Perkins Brailler, it’s like an old fashioned typewriter, complete with a “ding!” and the requirement of moving the head back to the beginning of the next line. I’m also enjoying getting used to making a letter with (up to) 5 fingers. It’s a new way of training my fingers and mind to formule words and sentences. I’m only at the very beginning phases now and I wonder if my fascination will eventually turn to frustration. Either way, I’m determined to learn how to read and write in Braille and I’ll be posting updates about my progress here periodically.
So far I can type letters a-g pretty quickly with h-z coming a bit slower. I can still only read “Google” easily, but hopefully that will change soon.
What are your experiences with learning Braille? When did you learn it?