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31 Days of Braille: Day 3

To braille or not to braille…

The controversy over braille literacy and the decline in braille usage since the 1950’s seems to center on whether the use of technology—specifically text-to-speech provided by screen reader software on computers, tablets and phones provides easier access to print, for individuals who do not access print visually.

While screen readers may provide efficient access to print, they may not always provide the same interaction with spelling, and grimmer that braille provides. Consider these comments and a news clip of Jim Phipps, former executive director of The Iris Network:


Vision Rehab Therapist, Laura Vittorioso CVRT, CLVT, who works for The Iris Network in Portland, Maine wrote the following comment:

Braille most closely replicates the art of reading … using one’s fingers versus eyes. It is the process of “seeing” the printed word on the page, how it is spelled, how it is used in a sentence that builds literacy.

Doug McKinleyville of the Low Vision Support Group

HI Steven.  I learned braille at age 6, as a totally blind child.  It has been a crucial part of my language since then.  Except for now.  In the past few years I developed a pinched nerve on C6 (interesting since there is 6 dots in braille) and this nerve effects my braille reading fingers.  It has been as though I have gone blind twice.  Listening to language is definitely not a substitute for reading braille.  I limp along writing my own braille notes on plastic paper since it keeps the dots more firm.  I still place braille labels on packaging.  I still need my braille calendar.  I gave away my refreshable braille display.  I have kept my braille embosser so I can easily braille short documents for me and other braille readers.  So my thanks to Louis Braille and others who have kept braille language alive.

I hear the same question from the public on how is braille made?  I do my best to show them.  Many of us have used a six pack of beer to demonstrate the concept.  First you and a friend drink the 6 cans of beer, then you replace the cans back into the plastic carrier as you teach them the braille alphabet.  If you don’t drink beer use half of a dozen egg carton and manipulate the eggs as though they were braille dots.  Seems to get the message across.

Doug McKinleyville Low vision Support Group (The bumpers) (707) 839-0588
Senior Center without Walls program telephone support group (The Eyes Have It)

What do you think? #31DaysofBraille, leave comment here email skelley4195 at, tweet

Day 2: #31DaysofBraille

Day 4: #31DaysofBraille



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