What Is Survival Braille?

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cover of book showing teacher teaching braille to student

People Think Braille Is Not Useful

In this age of digital talking books, computers fitted with screen reader software, audio labeling systems like the Pen Friend, some believe that learning braille is no longer necessary for people with vision loss. It's true that we have reached an age when more access to printed material is available than ever before. Senior citizens are told that braille is too hard; parents are told that there aren't enough instructors and audio reading is a better choice anyway. If you ask my generation who grew up reading and writing braille, I think you would get a different reaction.

How Braille Is Useful in My Life

I save any heavy-duty plastic or card stock for labeling everything from spices to charger cords for all of my wonderful technology. When one of my note taking devices hiccups or crashes, I am grateful for old three by five inch address and phone number cards. Magnetic can labels help me find the tomato soup among identically shaped cans of cream of mushroom on the shelf. A few French knots on clothing labels aid me in locating the black tights among the brown ones in my sock drawer. A Perkins Brailler is close at hand near both my home and office computers to jot down a phone number or quick shopping list. A slate and stylus is in my purse and in my briefcase. I don't worry about power outages or battery conditions. Even the note takers I use have braille displays so I can reference data by touch in a meeting or edit documents. Speech often misses that stray punctuation or sound alike word when I rely on a screen reader for this kind of task.

What Is Survival Braille?

What do I mean by survival braille? I believe unless neuropathy makes it impossible for a person to feel braille, knowledge of at least grade 1 or what they call today alphabet braille. Braille can be an advantage to any person experiencing vision loss. This is enough for you to read room numbers in a hotel, the floor buttons in an elevator, find the ladie's room, and use a calendar or phone number.

empish reading braille sign on bathroom

You don't need to get proficient enough to read a novel, but you won't panic if left alone in an elevator and have to push buttons and check the large numerals on the door frame to learn how the panel is laid out. You won't end up dropping Brussels sprouts instead of frozen strawberries into your punch. You can play Scrabble or Uno with a grandchild, keep track of small bits of information such as your flight and seat number, or directions on the side of a cake mix box. Sure there are high tech answers out there, but sometimes the reliability factor and low cost of using braille makes sense to use methods that have worked for centuries. Like most skills, the more you use them, the easier they get, too. If you are looking for ways to simplify and enhance your life after vision loss, then give braille a chance. It might surprise you how useful it is as a basic independent living skill.

Picture of woman holding cup of flour and using braille recipe to determine correct measurement for baking

Have you learned braille? If you have, share some ways you have found it useful in your life? If not, share your thoughts about why. Have you found it difficult to learn? Or have people discouraged you from learning it? Weather you know braille or not, share your comments with us in the section below.

Additional Readings

All about braille

Story of Louis Braille

Unified English Braille is here

There are currently 5 comments

Re: What Is Survival Braille?

We all get reams of paper in the mail, bills, ads, coupons, forms to be filled out, receipts, etc. To keep them organized, I label an envelope and then put the corresponding paper inside. For instance, all my receipts for Christmas buying are in one envelope marked Christmas. I also label folders of important papers. I put braille labels on empty boxes that various pieces of technology have been shipped in, so I can easily find the right box if I have to ship it somewhere. It's just the greatest tool for keeping your life in order.

Re: What Is Survival Braille?

Listening to audio materials are great but, think about it, you are only using one part of your reading skills. You are using the semantic (meaning of words and their relationships) when listening. However, there is another vital part of reading that is not being used. That is known as syntax (the rules that govern how words and sentences are put together to create phrases). Knowing how to read and/or write Braille gives you the direct opportunity to form words and sentences and apply the rules of grammar.
We have all listened to very poorly constructed conversations with improper uses of speech. When you hear the mistakes, you know that something is wrong. But, if you do not practice using syntax skills, you will eventually loose the ability to write with confidence.
No matter how much or little you learn, Braille gives you the hands-on ability to practice and reinforce this important part of your reading skills.

Re: What Is Survival Braille?

Thanks DeAnna, I opted not to learn braille as a teenager when I began to lose my eyesight and chose a typewriter and later other visual technology but I really wish I had gone down the braille route...and survival braille may be just the place to start my journey again. I must say, old fashioned ways are often the best methods of doing almost anything!

Re: What Is Survival Braille?

As an editor of the Tyfloswiat http://www.tyfloswiat.pl the quarterly magazine on assistive technology for the blind, I simply can't imagine normal life without using braille. Now, due to the problems of technical nature I hhave to do my job using audio only techniques. editing text this way though possible is a terrible experience. For the blind person braille means normal readnig and writting capabilities. I don't believe in audio as total replacement. If it would be that way, then sighted people would have stopped using usuall writting techniques.

Re: What Is Survival Braille?

I love Braille! I have a Braille writer, 4 slates and styluses, books, and Braille paper. I have two labelers that I use. I have glaucoma, a progressive eye condition that could blind in my future. So, I want to be prepared for what glaucoma could do to my vision. We all don’t know what the future holds, so we must prepare for life’s challenges! I’m not scared of glaucoma because I know what to do if I do go blind.

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