The title for this post comes from an experience I had recently. As many of us do, I posted about that experience on Facebook. My language was casual as this posting was intended for my “friends” (Okay, many of my friends are also in the profession of visual impairment, are visually impaired, and/or are parents of children with visual impairments.)
Here is the text of my post:
So I'm trying to get my aunt's taxes done (she passed a year ago) and I discovered I don't have something from Soc. Security I need. So I find out there is an HOUR+ hold and decide I'm just going to suck it up and listen to the crappy music and hold. I'm hoping when I get a human that the human helps me. Eventually male human comes on the line and I explain who I am and what I need. Male human asks for aunt's SS# and I read it and hear a PERKINS BRAILLER writing it down! I say, "You're using a Perkins brailler?" He says, "You know what one is by the sound?" I explain my background and say I'm surprised he isn't using a screen reading program. He assures me he is but he uses his PERKINS as his SCRATCH PAD. When he needed to take down my mailing address I heard the Perkins again, complete with ding! Yes doubting boys and girls -- braille is not going to be obsolete and there are reasons grown up use Perkins braillers!
I got such an overwhelming response that I then posted my personal post to the page of a professional Facebook group called Teachers of the Blind and Visually Impaired/O&M Specialists. Within a few days I had more than 400 likes between the two pages and that inspired me to write this blog post for Paths to Literacy
The Value of Braille
First, as someone who has taught braille at the university level to, I am guessing more than 600 pre-service teachers of students with visual impairments, I often get concerned that we put so much emphasis on learning the code that our future teachers may not connect with the value of braille. Yes, I stress the value of braille, and I give examples including having my students interview and/or meet panels of braille users and teachers of students with visual impairments. But do they “get it”?
Technology Has Not Eliminated the Need for Braille
Second, technology has become so prevalent for all of us (after all I’m posting on Facebook!) that as a society there seems to be less emphasis on reading and writing. The attitude seems to be we can all just talk to our phone or smart speaker! Some may wonder if any of us, be it print or braille users, need to bother with conventional reading and writing in the future?
Inspire Reluctant Braille Readers!
So when my Facebook post got so many hits and I started to get messages from people, I thought I’d share it with you. Several people who have contacted me have told me they shared the post with teens who are reluctant braille learners. One individual commented that after she read the post to her student there was dead silence. My hope is that this student, and others, will hear about ways that braille is still very much a part of the toolbox of employed, successful adults.