This week is National Braille Week, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of braille for people living with visual impairments. Braille, a tactile reading and writing system, uses raised dots to represent letters of the alphabet, punctuation, numerical characters, music and foreign languages. This year, we've asked Holly and Elin, two VI bloggers, what braille means to them and their experiences with it. Holly and Elin were also featured in our Top 10 Disability Bloggers, and have previously contributed guest posts which you can read here and here.
Holly - Life of a Blind Girl
You can view Holly's blog here at Life of a Blind Girl.
I started to learn braille when I was around 4 years old, when everyone in my class was learning to write, I spent that time learning braille. I have learnt braille in various languages: English, French, German and also music braille. As a blind person myself, I think braille is an important skill to have. I started learning braille when I was around 4 years old and I’ve used it ever since. When I was at school, I used to use a combination of both braille and a laptop depending what subject I was doing. I used to have to carry a Perkins brailler around with me as I didn’t have anything like a braille display but I accepted it for what it was and got on with it. However, I now have a braille display and wouldn’t be without it! I went through University and now have a job and I still use braille today.
There’s so much technology around in today’s society that there’s no wonder why there doesn’t seem to be a need for learning braille anymore. We can access just about anything on our phones, tablets or computers quickly and easily. Learning braille is a very controversial topic, some people love it and encourage those who are blind or visually impaired to learn it whereas others absolutely hate it. There seems to be this idea surrounding braille that it’s no longer useful in contemporary society, and that it doesn’t have as much value nowadays but is that really true? I certainly think that there’s still a need for braille, it’s such a unique and useful skill to have and I would still encourage people to learn braille.
Elin - My Blurred World
You can view Elin's blog here at My Blurred World.
I started learning braille when I was about 8 or 9 years old, although I didn’t fully understand the benefits of braille at the time, I was really intrigued by the concept. I carried on learning it throughout my time at secondary school and as my vision deteriorated quite significantly, I had to do all my GCSE exams through the medium of braille meaning that I also had to learn it in French in the space of a few months. Learning braille is like learning a new language and although it could be difficult at times, it has proven to be extremely beneficial for me. Braille is a skill that I’m really grateful to have learned and although it might not be as common anymore due to the many breakthroughs in technology, I think it’s an extremely valuable skill, one which has definitely helped me in many ways.
Thank you to Holly and Elin for your contributions on what braille means to you! We found it really interesting and informative. For more insight into Holly and Elin's experiences, you can visit their respective blogs at Life Of A Blind Girl and My Blurred World, and on Twitter at @lifeofablindgrl and @myblurredworld.