By Jule Ann Lieberman
I often stand in awe of my fellow PCB members who use braille with such ease in so many aspects of their daily lives. Having my vision loss recognized at age thirteen, it was assumed that I would always be a visual reader with the use of magnification. In recent times, I have lost far more vision than predicted, making reading extremely slow, difficult and often unproductive with magnification optics or assistive devices. For my braille reading friends, imagine if you could only read extra jumbo braille, which would be approximately one and a half inch tall. This no doubt would be slow, tedious and perhaps unproductive for you as well. Yes, audio recordings, scannable bar code labels and other assistive technology has and continues to provide me with access to the printed word; but having words at my fingertips to review the punctuation and spelling would be incredible.
So perhaps you are thinking as you read these words, “Well just get on with it and learn braille.” I only wish it were that simple. Life still happens: go to work, take care of family and pets, work at night on continuing professional education/development activities, and, yes, even squeeze in time to take care of myself. The opportunity to make braille my primary reading media would have been less an uphill challenge for me if I had learned it when I was a young student rather than a busy working mom.
I share this with you because I am hoping that others who learned braille in later life or the braille teachers among us can provide me with suggestions and support in my efforts to learn and use braille. I am open to suggestions via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by voice mail at 610-688-6517. I have investigated correspondence courses at Hadley and had some lessons with a BBVS rehabilitation teacher with limited progress. If other avenues are available, please let me know. This of course continues to be an annual new year’s resolution. Please help me make it possible this year! Thanks in advance for giving this your thoughtful consideration.