Braille Literacy

Braille Literacy

As we honor Braille literacy month, we are taking time to explore the use and versatility of Braille as employU customer turned employU Advocate Representative, Darlene, shares a little bit of her experience with us in the passage below. 

Braille Writer

Darlene’s Braille Writer

Learning Braille in my mid-fifties was challenging and liberating. I found it interesting that the placement of the six dots in a cell was instrumental in creating letters, numbers, punctuation, words, parts of words, and computer code. This intrigued me both personally and professionally. Just like learning to read as a child, I practiced over and over again. As with learning any language, it takes time to become fluent but knowing Braille is very helpful in my everyday life. 

 At home, using Braille helps me to identify things of similar shapes and sizes. Clear, plastic report covers are ideal to use when labeling. They’re reusable too. Cutting the label to fit and attach to an item with a rubber band or double-stick tape allows both the blind and the sighted to identify an object.  

When writing, the Braille Writer I use has a unique keyboard. The keys are as follows:  line spacer; dots 3, 2, 1; space bar; dots 4, 5, 6; backspace, and an embosser bar must be moved manually to the beginning of the line. A refreshable Braille display allows me to identify words that I cannot comprehend through the screen reader due to hearing loss. I can also use the keyboard to connect to computers and smart devices with the help of a USB cord or Bluetooth, making it extremely versatile.  

Braille Display

Darlene’s Braille Display/Keyboard

Additionally, using the combination of Braille and the screen reader allows me to stay organized while giving me the ability to identify files and documents. In order to identify documents, I let the screen reader read the document, then I use Braille to name the document and place the date at the bottom of the page. This assists me in knowing which side is printed and which end is right-side up.  Identifying and naming a file folder can be a bit tricky, so I Braille the sides of the folder and organize the tabs alphabetically in Braille.  

Though I use Braille in my everyday life, I still refer to myself as a “work in progress.” There is always more to learn. And I encourage others to learn Braille as well. Though being fluent is always helpful, knowing some Braille can also be useful and rewarding to the sighted. For example, finding something with your fingertips allows for faster and easier multi-tasking.  When you think about it, it’s truly incredible that the use of six dots in a cell can be so instrumental in so many ways.  

Read Darlene’s truly inspirational story and her journey within the deaf-blind community here.  

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