In 1965, nearly 48 years ago, I was introduced to Braille for the first time, probably unaware of how valuable it would be for the rest of my life. Though I had usable vision during my school years, I didn’t have enough to read printed text, so I depended on Braille for reading, writing, math, computer operating, and other necessary tasks. During my young adult life, I slowly lost any usable vision I previously had, so Braille became my world. I had to transfer most of my labels into Braille, which were already in very bold print.
Although modern technology for the blind is in direct competition with Braille, I still feel the need to depend on Braille as my main reference point. Braille pages, unlike data in a computer, will not crash or be lost, unless I personally lose them or throw them out. If I’m doing a job, and my computer crashes, I have to think about what we all used to do in the old days in order to get by. For example, I have nearly 3,000 email addresses in my Braille files which I keep in reserve in case anything happens to my computerized address book.
Despite all the wonderful advantages Braille offers, nearly eighty percent of the blind population are not familiar with it. This is a sad state of affairs. Despite the stat, nearly every student at the Perkins School in the 1970′s who didn’t have enough readable vision learned Braille.
When I was in elementary school 45 years ago, Braille tutors would spend an hour a day teaching the blind. Today, this type of tutoring is usually part of a preexisting criteria in order to become a special needs instructor. With that said, I believe, with my experience, I can teach Braille to anybody who wants to learn–blind or sighted. I have had great success in the past teaching this very practical method of reading and writing, and I would be proud to continue doing it.
Braille will never get old, despite all the new efficient ways that the blind can get their work done, and it’s too important to let it simply fade away.