Most people are frightened by Braille and do not think they would ever need to use it. If you find yourself losing your vision as an adult, Braille may be the last thing you want to think about. However, Braille is important to learn for everyday communication and can make the difference in your quality of life.
Braille Beyond Books
Most people think of Braille as a tool for blind people to read. However, most people who learn Braille as an adult don’t read novels in Braille, but use it in the everyday communication.
There is so much content available to be listened to, and I have often written about the joys I get from my hours spent with my Victor Reader Stream. Sighted people have embraced recorded books and using dictation to create content, and there are text-to-speech products and software that make Braille seem like an unnecessary tool.
But I’d like you to think about Braille as a tool for personal communication and not just as a way to read books.
Braille for Everyday Life
Think of all the touch screens that are in our lives. Think of all the dials with print markings. Our lives are full of them. There are too many buttons and touch screens in my life and simple Braille markings really help. This is a great reason to learn Braille.
We are well into autumn, and last night my heat went on (I wanted to jump up and turn it off, but I guess it is time *sigh*). We have small Braille labels on the thermostat marking the up and down buttons, and when the heat has been off for a while, I am glad for the reminders.
Braille Labels Make a Difference
My thermostat is just one place in my home where Braille labels make the difference. I think of all the places that Braille helps me seamlessly communicate with the technology around me to make my life better—in my home, at work, in my travels and at schools. I think of the TV remote, the appliances, prescription labels, ATM machines and so on. We even have a combination microwave convection oven that came with simple braille labels. A few Braille labels on your remote can really change your television experience.
Learning Braille and using Braille labels can greatly improve your quality of life, independence and decrease unnecessary frustrations. You can purchase a Braille labeler that makes Braille labels to put anywhere. New England Low Vision and Blindness sells a great one—the KGS Braille Labeler. Many companies also make Braille overlays for their products.
Learning Braille and using Braille labels (even as an adult) can make your life easy and help you communicate with the world around you.
Two Kinds of Braille
There are two kinds of Braille: contracted and uncontracted. Most people learn to read Uncontracted Braille first and then move on to learn Contracted Braille.
Uncontracted braille is the most basic form of Braille and is a letter for letter translation or copy of print. In this form of Braille there are 26 characters of the alphabet and some punctuation symbols. Remember when you learned to read print? Think how many letter “A”s you needed to learn. Then there was cursive and of course numerals.
Uncontracted Braille uses six dots in what is called a Braille cell. This means everything happens in those combinations of six dots. How hard can that be to learn?
Uncontracted Braille is most often used in signs and on labels because it is the most accessible for new or less fluent Braille readers. However, this form of Braille is rarely used for long documents because it takes up a lot of space and it takes a longer time to read.
Contracted Braille is more advanced than Uncontracted Braille and uses abbreviations and contractions. This form of Braille uses fewer symbols and makes reading quicker and reduces the size of books and printed materials. Contracted Braille is considered the universal standard for literary Braille. This is the Braille form you want to use if you are interested in reading books in Braille.
It’s World Blindness Awareness Month—a Great Time to Learn Braille
If you do find yourself losing your vision and are now convinced that Braille can improve your life, you are in luck. October happens to be World Blindness Awareness Month and a great time to kickstart your quest to learn Braille.
Braille is so much more than for books and can make your life better. Why not start learning Braille today?
Once you have mastered Braille, New England Low Vision and Blindness offers a wide array of Braille Displays and Braille Embossers as well as other blindness products to make your life easier. Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-211-6933 to learn more.