In a day of making endless distinctions-totally blind vs. partially sighted, cane user vs. dog handler, working blind vs. the seventy percent-one touchstone remains that many people think of when talking blindness. That’s the use of braille to write. Even if someone who is sighted doesn’t know a friend or relative who’s blind, they’ve probably associated the bumpy six dot cell with those who can’t see.
I remember learning to read my letters and numbers first in kendergarten, then adding more complex contractions and how to write braille in the next couple years. And, wow, did my world open up! Just like my friends who went to public school, I could read little books about the Bernstein Bears, Charlotte’s Web, and the Hardy Boys Series all at my fingertips.
Yet, the biggest thrill in my young life was receiving my first braille Bible, the tried and true Revised Standard Version when I was in second grade. I had just rode home from the Indiana School for the Blind with others who lived in Anderson, Indiana. Dad picked me up from the drop-off point outside Anderson High School and told me there was a big present waiting for me at home. Of course, my little brain was more focused on the fact my folks, my brother, and I were going to take the weekend down in Cincinnati. The Reds were playing the Dodgers that night and I just couldn’t wait to be in the same ballpark with Johnny Bench, hoping he’d hit a homer.
Well, when I walked into my house’s family room, Mom showed me the boxes Dad had mentioned. Like a kid on Christmas morning, I tore into those things as fast as I could and, before I knew it, I was reading from Exodus 3 about Moses at the burning bush.
Of course, as technology has changed over the years, my use of computers, online study resources, and other ways of reading have become my primary modus operendi. But, braille still remains for me, especially for writing little notes to myself or reading a few magazines I get from Lutheran Braille Workers. http://www.lbwinc.org I still maintain my rapid speed because I never want to lose my abilities with reading and writing Braille.
Check out the accompanying article from Vision Aware. You’ll read a bunch of other encouraging testimonies of how braille affects people’s lives.