Tag Archives: learning

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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I still have a lot to learn

Last night Erica and I had a conversation. Monday I had left robin by herself all day, because she wasn’t feeling well. I didn’t ask her to stop by, because it would have been out of her way to do so. Anyway Monday night was pretty rough, because she hung up on me and I wasn’t really sure where we were going to go from there. She called me back and said she would come over Tuesday night to talk.

We went out to the little pond at my apartment, and sat for a while talking about each other’s day. I find the water sound so peaceful. Finally we got down to the meat of the conversation. She said that she understood why I am protecting myself, but if I want us to grow I have to let things go. I agreed with her I basically started off the conversation with I’m sorry I was wrong. In my mind I felt I was doing the right thing, and maybe it’s not about what was wrong or right, but I didn’t call her or include her with what was going on. She told me she wants to be a part of my life I love robin, and so does she, and she wants to protect that. She used an example that I really understood. She said what if I was sick and didn’t want you paying for a cab to my place so I just didn’t tell you that would make you mad right? Of course I would be, because I would want to get her soup or do whatever she needed to help her feel better.

I’m not perfect, and I know people like Jared tried to show me flaws in my ways of thinking, but this is the first time I get it. For me I’m just trying to rationalize I’ve had a hand full of bad relationships, and why would someone want to be with me and my short comings? I watched my dad growing up and he did all the driving and handy work. I’m good at doing things around the house, and have a pretty good skill set but I just feel lacking somehow.

Mel told me that if I want someone caring and loving they’re going to want to be nurturing towards me. I may have butchered a bit what she told me, but it was helpful. I’ve never seen my thoughts on being independent as harmful, but now I see they need a little improving. I still want to take things slow, but Erica and I reached a level of understanding that felt really nice yesterday. She also said that I do more for her than I realize, and I don’t have to worry. She gave me some examples which were really nice and thoughtful. Things like I text her in the morning, or randomly just to say hi with a little positive note. She told me she’s never had that before. I also hooked up her surround sound recently which she was struggling with. She also mentioned how I was able to just fit right in with her grandpa, and she liked that. I just thought her examples were easy for me to understand, and I felt more wrong and awful for creating a situation.

This whole experience has me feeling like I will always learn. Maybe were never really done learning! I’m independent and I take care of everything for myself, but because I can’t drive or build something for Erica I felt inadequate which really is ridiculous. I’m sure it comes from rejection and just a lot of negative feelings that have built up, because it isn’t easy. When you find someone who wants to love you you have to hold on I would have eventually just killed it thinking like how I was. When I moved to Louisville I met a guy named Jerry. He owns about 18 rental properties and is totally blind. He does construction work on everyone. He is building a new house right now, and if it wasn’t so far from where I live I would have been interested. I’ve helped drive fence posts, but I never thought I could build a room on my own. That is me limiting myself, because Jerry can do it. I asked him how he designs something, and he just told me it comes natural he’s always been good at that kind of architecture. I think were molded by are environment and ultimately what we know. If it’s important to me to learn how to build a house I’ll probably figure it out if it’s not I’ll just pay someone.

Tonight is our first date, so I have the butterflies. We’ve gone out as friends a lot, but there is this spark now, so it’s a bit different. I have a nice romantic first kiss planned after dinner as well, so here is to hoping.

By the way next week Pilot Neil is coming in to town for the Derby, so I’m excited to have some live stories involving him. Friday I have off, so were going to the track for Oaks day. He is always challenging me to try something different like that football story I told you about a while ago, or tandem bike riding. He usually will let me drive as well, so were always up to something. I asked him recently if he had found a new blind friend to replace me In Philadelphia. He responded with he’s moved on to searching for someone in a wheelchair he’s met enough blind people. We are planning on going to some baseball games this summer, because he has a plane and has to fly to maintain a license. His wife Adrian goes along, so we have a good time. She keeps us in line a lot of the time.