Our Thoughts on Braille Literacy

This blog post is featuring our various opinions of Braille. We have all learned Braille at different times and in different ways. We have all learned, experienced, and used Braille in our lives in some form or another. We, The Blinkie Chicks, talk a little about Braille and how it has played a role in our lives. Also, we have some links to other people’s stories about how Braille has impacted their lives.

Ashley began learning Braille at the age of 6. When she was asked if she would have liked to have learned Braille earlier, she says: “Yes, I do wish I had the opportunity to learn Braille earlier. I think Braille is a necessary tool for blind and visually impaired children to have in their toolbox.”

When asked how and why Braille was important to her, Ashley said: “Braille is very important to me. My family had a difficult time getting the elementary school I attended to find someone to teach me Braille, and the school tried to force them to send me to The Governor Morehead School for the blind. My parents refused because they wanted to keep me at home. The school system had to find someone to teach me Braille.” Ashley further explains: “I have been able to see how much Braille has helped people in their daily lives. I know how much Braille has helped me, my friends, and the people I have taught.”

Ashley says that Braille was the way she learned to read and write. It was the way she had access to the materials the other students had access to. She learned how to spell and work math problems using Braille.
She received access to her text books through Braille, and by that she was able to efficiently learn the material she needed to pass her classes.
Ashley says that one of the suggestions that she could give to others who are learning Braille is: “Do not worry if you do not pick up Braille when you first try to learn it. Be patient with yourself, and with the person or persons who are trying to teach you. Braille is not easy to learn for some people, but you can learn it.” She says, “I love and enjoy Braille, and I hope others will as well.”

Jessica learned braille at age 11. She chose to learn it on her own. She was never asked to seriously learn it, because she is able to read print. Jessica says: “I guess they thought I didn’t need it.”
When she was asked if she would have liked to have learned Braille at an earlier age, she says: “I wish I had learned braille sooner, because it would have made reading much easier for me, and maybe I would’ve developed a love for reading at an early age.”

Jessica says that Braille is very important to her. She goes on to say: “In fact, I keep finding ways to use it, even though people keep trying to tell me I don’t need it. I do need it, because it is much more efficient for me to read something in braille vs. print. I guess people think I have too much vision for braille, but that thinking is flawed.” She also states: “Braille is extremely important, because reading it is the only real way for blind individuals to be literate. It assists with learning to spell, punctuation, and proper grammar usage. What would happen if print were to disappear? Braille should be taught and encouraged. A screen reader and audio books can never replace braille.”

Jessica says that Braille has helped her succeed in school. She explains: “Braille helped me succeed in school, because in middle and high school, I was able to take my notes in braille. When studying, I could actually concentrate on the material, instead of focusing my energy on reading the notes themselves.”

Daria learned Braille at the age of six. She was attending public school at that time. She wishes she would have learned Braille at an earlier age so that she would have been reading sooner.

She states that Braille has helped her have confidence in her reading abilities. “I love to read aloud.” She says: “I can be more independent because of it. For example, when I was in college, there was Braille beside the suite doors.” Daria continues by saying, “Braille is important to me because I am able to be independent, and I can be a more active reader because of it. Just being able to touch it with my hands is very therapeutic to me.”

When Daria was asked how Braille helped her in school, she said, “I mention reading a lot, but Braille was how I learned to read; I gathered information through reading Braille. Also, when learning Spanish, Braille helped me to advance. Studying Spanish was easier because I learned Braille.”
For the people who are learning Braille, Daria advises, “My suggestion would be to have patience with yourself when you begin learning Braille, and do not be afraid to ask questions about Braille you don’t yet understand, such as what certain contractions represent.”

Ania learned Braille at the age of three during the summer. Ania says, “I spent every weekday morning during that early summer going through the alphabet and forming words, in a parents directed blind organization.”

Ania does not wish she would have learned Braille sooner. She does think that learning Braille before primary school is vital.

When we asked Ania how and why Braille is important, she explains: “For me, books are a part of my life, as I say it, I eat books as much as food. Books have opened a door to a new world and new experiences. Braille is the way of getting there. When I put my fingertips over those dots, it’s as if I really had vision; those dots are my eyes.” Ania goes on to say, “Every kid should know how to read and write, how to spell and how to count, and every blind kid should know braille to do those things. No braille no good spelling, only audio, your touch is not as well developed as it can be. In fact, Braille is our eyes. We develop the hearing because we use it more but our touch shows us the forms of things, how the things really are.”
Ania says that in school, Braille was the way for her to be even with her peers. Ania says that she could do the same as her peers; in fact, she could do even better than them. Ania says that Braille was the way she did her math, how she calculated, and the way she has advanced in life. Ania says, “I would ask the sighted people, what are your eyes for you?”

Ania gives this advice to people who are just learning Braille: “Don’t give up. If they are kids who are early learners, I would tell them that it is the same as learning to read in print for sighted kids. If, on the other hand, the person learning Braille is older, I would tell him/her to have patience, and persevere. With Braille, like with other things in life, if you don’t give up and continue with a clear goal, you will always reach your objectives.”

Here are a few links about Braille that might interest you.

The first is a link to a post written about the importance of Braille. With the strong focus on electronic communication, many feel that Braille is no longer necessary. This blog post, which was the inspiration for this post, is a response to an article written on this subject, which explores Braille and what it means to those who use it.
The Importance of Braille Literacy: An Open Letter to the New York Times from Daniel Aronoff

The second is a great post about why Braille is still necessary, even if it can be inconvenient at times. Luckily, Braille displays are coming down in price, which means more people should have access to Braille than ever before.
Braille Is Not Dead (So Stop Trying To Kill It) | Where’s Your Dog?

We sincerely hope you have enjoyed this post. Thank you for reading!