Tag Archives: Braille

The importance of braille.

With this blog I’ve said and put in to words a lot of different experiences that I’ve had. I want to talk about something important that a lot of people ask about, but I really haven’t put in to words. Is braille still relevant today?
 
I first got in to this conversation when I went to Ball State. Ethan and Whitney asked me about it after reading an article that someone wrote questioning if braille should still be taught. My opinion has gone back and forth on this, but with my new job especially where I am working with the first ever low-cost display my opinion has changed again.
I would start here would you want your kid to only learn by speech? If your child is sighted I am going to guess your answer would be no. Why are we trying to dictate that blind children would be illiterate? I hear things every day when I sit down with my IPhone or my computer, but being able to read what I wrote is life changing. I want you to take what I am about to say and think about it. I’m 31 years old, and for the first time writing this on my couch I can view my writing. I can see commas, question marks, periods, quotations, and etc. I’ve never had this access before.
 
The reason being is cost. The IPhone came out in 2009 and mainstreamed accessibility by putting Voiceover on every device. As a blind consumer I can go by a phone and turn on speech and use it with no additional cost. I had access to a braille display in college, but it eventually broke and a new one was $3000 and that wasn’t in the budget. Imagine just to be able to read what you wrote if they charged you $3000 for paper and a pencil, so that left me with speech. A lot of my childhood I had speech in everything, but braille really hadn’t become electronic yet so I missed a lot because it wasn’t available.
 
The fact that in a month or so that schools and parents will be able to buy a braille display for around $500 is huge. That is still a lot, but it puts braille in more children’s hands. My dad and mom used to joke but were serious when I went to school in Kindergarten that I had the most expensive backpack. I had a Braille N Speak 640 which was $1500, but it only talked there was no braille output. I went and observed some kids playing with these braille displays and it was amazing. My niece and nephews all have access to IPads or Kindles, but if your blind and a child you don’t really get exposed to braille until your school aged. My 2-year-old Nephew can point at a Netflix logo and say Thomas the Train, but a blind child doesn’t have that ability.
At work in the mornings I usually spend some time talking with Ken. He reminds me of an older version of myself, but smarter. Well maybe I’ll get there. We talk a lot about parents with blind children, and how they try and do too much limiting the things that child could learn. I get the privilege to work with Larry who created one of the first screen readers for Windows, but he cuts his own grass. Ken works on a lot of things in his house. I never learned these things. My parents were really good about letting me experience things, but on some things they still say to me I will help you.
 
One thing I’ve found challenging is doctors’ visits. When I was a kid my mom would fill out the paperwork, and I’d see the doctor. The other day I went in for a toe surgery, and the lady hands me a card with an appointment time and says you can give this to whoever drives you. Really? Again people make me feel like I can’t possibly do something unless I have a sighted person managing things. Maybe that’s an extreme view, but it’s frustrating. My parents doing that when I was little sheltered me from these types of attitudes. Let your kid try things, make mistakes, and then help them learn how to correct it. Being a helicopter parent does nothing useful for your child. One day you will die then what?
 
Sorry back to braille. As an adult I really haven’t had the opportunity to read a lot of braille books, because of convenience. With this display I can pair it to my IPhone and read a book from Amazon or Bookshare. I have things at my finger tips that I’ve never been able to have before. It highly offends me when sighted people discuss the merits of braille and it’s use. Should I do the same for print? After all you can get your newspaper on any device why do you prefer getting an actual copy? I don’t think people stop and think about how much reading helps you with spelling, grammar, sentence structure, and etc.
 
The other thing is graphics are coming a long way also. Ken is in charge of a display that refreshes graphics. Imagine being able to feel long division on a graphical braille display! It’s coming. We’re going to be seeing in the not too far future huge advancements in teaching math to blind children which opens the door to a lot of things. I’m excited to test that display when it’s done. The other thing is you can draw on it. I can make a shape or even draw what I think something looks like then someone sighted can draw me what something actually looks like. That display for now will be out of my price range, but as the Orbit braille display is doing to price maybe in a few versions the graphical displays can also come down. I think as a braille reader were entering an exciting time period for being a braille user.
 
I am doing okay. I am getting better with the cane I don’t feel like a novice anymore. A lot of it is coming back. I think about Robin every day probably always will. I really enjoy the on this day feature on Facebook, because I would write in things and include her so whenever I see one it helps. I still can’t believe how fast her health declined.
 
My friend Denny came in to town last weekend and we had a lot of fun. Abby, Denny, and I all went to the Bats game Friday against the Reds. They did not have the game on the radio, but we just talked the entire time so it was still a lot of fun. Cold, but fun. Sunday we went to Abby’s and she made us lunch it was great. We also sat outside for the first time this year for a few hours. It’s funny we listened to baseball and played Dice World on the IPhone.
 
Abby and I are doing well. It’s hard to believe with each month that passes were nearing 2 years together. Her dog Bancroft has really gotten to be closer to me now that Robin is gone. Not that she wouldn’t allow it, but they both are really close to their owners. I’ll never forget the last weekend with Robin she followed me everywhere she wanted to be in the same place as me all of the time I think she knew. The MLB season has started, so I’m pretty excited to see where teams end up.

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Clarification on Indianapolis in the program to make Brielle is called Duxbury

I got a few messages after my rant yesterday, so I thought I would at least try and set the record straight. When I went to Indianapolis four years ago at the circle downtown they had a light in particular that had eight countdown for sighted people, hands for deaf people, but no audio. someone my friend Jonathan mentioned to me that there are a few lights downtown with audible signal is now maybe thats The case now. I don’t remember any when I was down therefore the Super Bowl or the Kentucky game recently. i’m going next month so maybe I will do some research.

Another person asked me well maybe the government doesn’t provide braille because it would be expensive. Or they would have to have an expert. Well not to sound rude but there is a computer program called Duxbery which with little computer knowledge you can at least make grade one braille. i’m tired of the status quo where lobbyists keep delaying technology improvements for blind people in the realm of television, and other forms of entertainment. for the first time ever last week Walmart finally jumped on board with a talking prescription program which is not offered everywhere unbelievable right? And 2014 we are finally just now getting some sort of prescription reading device that has tags that will tell you what prescription you’re taking. I try to be patient but yesterday when I organization that explicitly has hired to drive disabled people around that is their job their paid for when they failed to do even the minimum or know the minimum it just irritates me.

Where does your dog go does she go in the trunk?

That question is how I started my day. Seriously! yellow Cab here contracts with our para transit system to take people with disabilities door to door. some yellow cab drivers only drive for the para transit system because they make more money doing that then they would on fares. I just think to myself all the times I get question how I’m going to do something or people doubt me what he just negative connotation yet this person agrees to a contract where they drive people with disabilities and he has to ask if my dog is going to ride in the trunk? I don’t know what I want from the world or what I even expect, but what pisses me off and continues to piss me off is that blind people are so misrepresented. You look at the deaf culture they have things in place caption TV fuck they even get caption on Netflix. Downtown Indianapolis they have signs that tell them went to walk but yet no audible signal. seriously this is what makes me question what the fuck are organizations that represent us are doing? also why I don’t belong to either of them. I understand they’re going to be dumb people, but this is happening on the daily and I’m tired of it. I walk my dog around the car open the door and she laid on my feet like she is supposed to. listen I understand the deaf culture is way different because they have site, but they also have representation that isn’t split. they work to get things done where blind people can’t even decide whether or not current sea should be be distinguishable by touch. something in the 90s the national Federation for the blind fog for predominately. Then in the new millennium the American Council for the blind started fighting for it and the national Federation for the blind switch their viewpoint. The national Federation for the blind even went as far as influencing lawmakers to strike down the deal and 2005. Maybe six. Saying that blind people really didn’t care about accessible currency. went 10 years ago they stood on the other side of fighting for it. fuck them both. i’m a little pissed today.

When I was in high school with Dick Simons discriminating on me I called the national Federation for the blind and they completely ignored my case and me. I did what I had to do and got through the issue but it would’ve been nice to have some support. I guess they didn’t see the money in it. skipped over 10 years I’ve been promised Accessable TV still not here. I try to pay my house loan online which is something I’m fighting for because apparently no other blind people in Kentucky have a goddamn house. you have to get by captcha and they don’t have an audio capture which is a government website which completely ignores ADA law. I complained about it to a friend who mentioned it to somebody else and then the Americans with disability is person for Kentucky got on it supposedly next month I will be able to finally pay my house loan for the first time independently without having to call someone welcome to the new century. I just don’t understand. I guess maybe that really never has affected anyone who knows it’s just ludicrous.

I’m going to work on not cussing so much it’s a work in progress. I just sometimes get so angry that things don’t change. You look at the landscape of blind people more of us were getting educated but what good is it? are there more jobs opening up? It doesn’t seem like it. I’m sure a little this is a little blind anger I’m facing from being rejected the other day but seriously. Do you know the federal government can send out different documentations in different languages, but yet don’t offer braille at all. I wonder why that is? you can’t somehow pay a contractor to write braille notifications, or find a braille printer somewhere? for chrissakes Verizon can get me a braille cell phone bill but the federal government and Medicare can’t seem to braille out things for people who are blind? it just doesn’t make sense. Verizon my not do an actual phone bill but they did offer me a manual ones for a phone which is still better than anything the government ever offered. Furthermore any chain restaurant that has more than a certain amount of locations should be required to carry a braille menu. thankfully most I can find online but there still is that rare occasion. It’s just so much work I’ve often said sighted people have it so great you were told when to walk pretty much do anything in life and yet I still see some of you getting hit by cars. Baffling.

Talking atlas

This morning around 3 AM I got an app for my iPad called talking Atlas. Is pretty amazing, because you can drag your finger around and feel the layout of the states mainly how they border each other and their shape. You have the option of different maps so they have North America South America Asia etc. as I’ve gotten older I pretty much understand know how America looks, but I’ve never really understood how other countries are shaped so this is pretty amazing. I mean even here actually being able to feel the Panhandle is neat. I think I mentioned this before I had a booklet of the United States in braille where I could feel different states and how their shaped, but I really didn’t have much access to things like this growing up. This morning I viewed Asia and Africa just viewing the countries and layouts.

Robin really upset me this morning I’m not going to tell you what she did to embarrass her but just know she is not on the very happy list right now. She will start to be quarantined to the crate at night if that’s the way she’s going to act. i’m a little angry with her usual I get happy to see her in the morning but when I saw what she did I didn’t hug her at all so she can lay in time out for a while. Dogs I hope they can feel my disappointment. I didn’t verbally get angry with her because I didn’t catch her in the act so it doesn’t do any good but she should know better.

Struggles with mortgage

With this buying a condo adventure I’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs which I hear is pretty normal. My friend Jerry told me that he’s never had a property he’s bought that he didn’t doubt for a second. I probably would feel better if I could read everything that I’ve signed but unfortunately due to technology I still can’t. Ultimately I just keep hoping that I didn’t do something dumb but my anxiety is through the roof. I have gone back-and-forth on my decision a thousand times as the time gets nearer to sign the mortgage I get even more nervous. Last night my anxiety hit a pretty high I think I’m okay now. It’s just such a huge investment I’ve put so much thought into it everything in life is a gamble and I feel I’m making the ultimate one. It’s funny I do worry about the blind unemployment rate because what if I lose my job yes that can happen to anyone but I can’t go work at a 7-Eleven as easily as you can. I still feel I’m making the best choice but I’m just really nervous.

My apartment is pretty much packed up a eating off Styrofoam plates and plastic cups which is a lot of fun. Last weekend my parents sister my niece and nephew came down to help me pack. My niece is getting so old or maybe that’s me. I can’t believe she is six! She’s kind of understanding my blindness now. I was able to show her what brail look like and she thought that was pretty neat. She sat on my lap and I looked at her ears and asked where her earrings were? She said when I get big like you uncle Joe I can have earrings again. I really enjoy spending time with her it’s amazing how big they get quickly

Braille should stay.

I’ve been reading different articles on eliminating braille and educating with just speech software. I want to look back at my experiences, and state why I feel braille is still relevant for children and adults to learn today.

I never went to a blind school, and was fortunate to have had the proper technology from the start. A man who was dying of cancer wanted to donate some money for a cause and he had heard about me overcoming cancer. He contacted my family and asked if I could use anything. At the time I’m guessing in 1990 there was a braille note taker out called the Braille N Speak. It cost $2000, but it allowed me to write notes, have a calendar, and perform a lot of school functions. He purchased it for me, so my first day of school when I was 5 I carried a $2000 product in my backpack. I learned how to write braille on a braille writer which weighed about 6 pounds. I remember having to do my math homework on that a lot, because on the Braille N Speak it couldn’t print off math correctly. The computer was nice to have because it was so small. I could hook it to a printer and just print off my homework rather than have to have my as it’s called my visually impaired teacher translate my braille to print for me.

One braille page is equivalent to 2 print pages, and depending on the print size maybe 3. To give you an idea I would have a social studies book in braille and it would be 30 volumes or more. My school had an office where I could go grab the volume I needed for the day. If I had homework it was pretty normal I may have to carry 2 volumes of a book home in braille, because in most cases a volume would only cover 20 pages. Needless to say when I went to college I didn’t use braille.

I’ve never been a real fast braille reader. I used speech to read a lot, and just never gained the skills to read like my classmates in print. I know some real good braille readers who when listening to them you’d never know they were reading braille, but most people I know use speech. I think speech is great, but it doesn’t teach you how words form or look. I know for me personally braille helped me learn the basics. I also feel it’s important in elevators, identifying doors, and games. I do not use braille on a regular basis, and in my house I rarely use it. The most I use it for is when I’m playing cards.

When I went to Ball State I ruffled some feathers, because in particular two buildings didn’t have braille on the doors of the rooms. They would have a sign in print but even for people in wheelchairs it was hard to see, because it was above the door frame. I proposed to the student council to make it an initiative to braille the two buildings and oh my god did it set off a backlash for me. The head of Disability services contacted me and was like Joe why didn’t you come to me with this concern? Seriously he was more upset I didn’t follow the protocol rather than fix the problem. He sent me this email that claimed they were going to renovate the two buildings in question and after the remodeling they’d put braille up. I went back about a year ago after the renovations, and guess what no braille still.

The place in which I’d like to see more braille growth is in restaurants. I went out to eat last night, and they had no braille menu and while I could view a menu online it was not up to date. That’s a frustrating issue, because we often cannot see new products or any nutritional value. I’m trying to be healthy, and researching what I’m eating would take me years, so honestly I just guess. Yes I could go to websites and maybe stumble upon information, but who has time to seek out everything they’re eating. If a restaurant doesn’t have a braille menu I will usually find one using my IPhone. I would like to see more done for blind people being able to obtain nutritional information and up to date menus.

One source I thought I would share real quickly is a project designed to deliver directions on preparing store bought foods. Again if I buy a can of soup I can’t see the directions on how to fix the product, but this helpful website has bailed me out a few times as I learn to cook. http://www.directionsforme.org