“You’ve got to learn braille but you have to really concentrate.” So four-year-old me was told by a preschool teacher. This moment of idealism was magically caught on video. I still have the videotape [yes, it’s a REAL video!]
I want to tell everybody how important Braille is in my life. When I began school there were not any electronic Braille writers [well there were but too clunky and cumbersome for classroom use.]
There was the opticon which produced raised printed letters and the VBII [a refreshable Braille device.] And another one [though this was in the 80’s] the BrailleMate that had only one cell on it. It is so interesting to learn all this stuff now and also about what has been called The War Of The Dots. We may not have had braille at all in the English world.
When I was 5 and starting school until I was about 9, somebody would transcribe my work for the classroom teacher. Then we got a Braille-to-Print. This was a printer that connected to a Perkins Braille machine and one would push a button every line of text/braille to get it printed out. It was an okay system — though arduous — when it worked.
In 2000 I got my first refreshable Braille device, a Braille Lite 2000. It was soooo cool to me — it even had games on it. I could write stories and a diary and so on and nobody could read it but me. I was rather addicted to the rather primitive games on it — just like my peers were addicted to computer games.
Unfortunately the Braille Lite was a DOS machine and I had to learn windows.
But it is so pleasurable to read my computer in Braille. And to write it on my iDevice. I love the crispness of the dots as sighted people love to read the written word.
I am pretty addicted to books but that’s another post entirely — about the lack of Braille books.