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The Braille Highway

For your reading convenients below you will find all the Braille Highway published in 2019

January 2019

Happy New Year! Wishing you a year filled with happiness, good health, prosperity, and lots of blessings. It is not only a new calendar year but The Blind Perspective is a year older and of course, so is the Braille Highway.

It is also Louis Braille’s 210th birthday on January 4th. Keeping Mr. Braille’s birthday in mind, I will be giving a quick lesson on learning braille. I will begin by stating that I am not a braille instructor nor do I have any training in teaching. For folks who may have learning braille as one of their New Year’s resolution I will give you a very basic and brief lesson on the A, B, C’s & braille numbers. I do encourage you to find an official institution that teaches braille once you get the fundamentals from this article. As per usual, I do invite you to email me by using my address mentioned at the beginning of this article.

The directions below are for use with a braille writer, not the slate and stylus. I would recommend that you have ample braille paper available to practice on, as practice makes perfect.
We will begin with the first ten letters of the alphabet. First the letter, then the dots needed to create that specific letter will be given.

A. = dot 1.
B. = dots 1 & 2.
C. = dots 1 &4.
D. = dots 1. 4. & 5.
E. = dots 1 & 5.
F. = dots 1. 2. &4.
G. = dots 1. 2. 4. & 5.
H. = dots 1. 2. & 5.
I. = dots 2 & 4.
J. = dots 2. 4. & 5.
I would recommend that you practice these 10 letters until you can recall them with ease.

To create the next ten letters of the alphabet in braille, you need to add dot 3 to the first ten letters. See below.

K. = dots 1 & 3.
L. = dots 1. 2. & 3.
M. = dots 1. 3. &4.
N. = dots 1. 3. 4. & 5.
o. = dots 1. 3. & 5.
P. = dots 1. 2. 3. & 4.
Q. = dots 1. 2. 3. 4. & 5.
R. = dots 1. 2. 3. & 5.
S. = dots 2. 3. & 4.
T. = dots 2. 3. 4. & 5.

There are six more letters that remain, U through Z. With the exception of the letter W, add the dot 6 to the letters K through O to create the remaining letters.

U. = dots 1. 3. 6.
V. = dots 1. 2. 3. & 6.
X. = dots 1. 3. 4. & 6.
Y. = dots 1. 3. 4. 5. & 6.
Z. = dots 1. 3. 5. & 6.

Since the w was not used in France during the 1800's, it needed to be added afterwards.
W. = dots 2. 4. 5. & 6.
That concludes the alphabet. Like I already mentioned, practice is the best method for learning anything new.

As for the numbers, A. through I = 1 through 9, and J = 0. To distinguish between the letters and numbers, you must first use the number sign to represent the dots as a number, rather than a letter.

Here are the numbers, be sure to put the number sign before the dots representing the number.
Number sign = dots 3. 4. 5. & 6.
1. = number sign, then dot 1.
2.= number sign, then dots 1 & 2.
3. = number sign, then dots 1 & 4.
4. = number sign, then dots 1. 4. & 5.
5. = number sign, then dots 1 & 5.
6. = number sign, then dots 1. 2. & 4.
7. = number sign, then dots 1. 2. 4. & 5.
8. = number sign, then dots 1. 2. & 5.
9. = number sign, then dots 2 & 4.
0. = number sign, then dots 2. 4. & 5.

Once you have mastered the A. B. C‘s and numbers, you can then purchase Dymo tape and go label crazy. It will truly open many doors for your independence. Label medicine, spices, canned/ frozen foods, files, DVD’s, CD’s, documents, and much much more!

Thank you for reading my article! Remember to stay on the dotted line of life! Be safe and see you again in February!

February 2019

Hello and welcome to the Braille Highway for the month of February!

What a better way to begin the new year, than with a Braille Pal! You will not only be able to practice your braille skills, but you can make a new friend. The Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER), International Services & Global Issues Division has begun a “Braille Pals” initiative.

Braille users and learners at any level can develop friendships with others from around the world. This program currently has a classroom of students from the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired communicating with other students in India. They welcome more classrooms and individual students to communicate and practice their braille with other similarly-aged students around the world.

The main concept of this initiative is to encourage braille along with friendships. However, braille does not need to be the only form of communication, as individuals with low vision and non-braille users are welcomed. Both adults and children are encouraged to participate.

Participants are connected initially through email. It is then up to the Braille Pals to exchange addresses to begin writing in braille or continue communicating through email.

There are several Pals from many countries who are either using or learning UEB (Unified English Braille), and they would like to have a Braille Pal to practice and communicate with. These individuals come from such countries as Algeria, Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Macedonia, and Poland.

If you are interested in becoming part of this Braille Pal initiative, please email Lisa Johnson at LMJohnson1025@gmail.com
Be sure to provide your name, location (state, country), age, gender, the languages you speak, your level of braille in English (you may include other languages that you braille), and other information that may help connect you with an appropriate Braille Pal.

Braille user's do it with feelings. Why complicate life with gadgets when you can complement it with braille. Remember to stay on the dotted line of life. Stay safe and we will talk again in March.

March 2019

Hi Readers!
For the Irish, and those of us who are Irish for a day, Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! Many of us will be moving our clocks forward. And, either you will be welcoming spring or fall in your neck of the woods. As for me, I can’t wait for spring. We have had too much snow in my area of Canada this winter season.
I have finally been able to spend some time with Karen Santiago to conduct a Q&A about braille. For those of you who don’t know, Karen is the editor of the Blind Perspective, and the author of Movers & Shakers, as well as the International Perspective articles. Below you will find her thoughts and experiences with braille, so, rread on.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.
I live in central Massachusetts with my two daughters, Kandis and Erika, and my guide dog, Sheila. My vision loss is due to glaucoma, which I was diagnosed with at the age of five. Before losing most of my sight in 2007, I own and operated a preschool center. For the past eight years I have been working for Easter Seals, an organization that provides services to adults and children living with disabilities.

Q: Did you learn UEB, and if yes when and how did you learn it?
I have not yet taken on the challenge of learning UEB. However, shortly after losing the majority of my sight and leaving my teaching position, I began to learn braille from the Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired. I completed all four literary courses, as well as many other courses. In fact, in 2010, I was awarded the Student of the Year award from Hadley!

Q: When you produce braille, which methods do you use?
I use my slate and stylus to jot down notes, and to label documents that I need to file. I have a datebook with a convenient storage pouch for a slate and stylus. This is great for noting appointments, date reminders, and the like. I have a slate and stylus set at work for creating my meeting notes.
I use my Perkins braille writer for the “bigger jobs”, such as brailling letters, and creating my username/ password reminder list. I also have created a golf guide for when I play the computerized golf game. This lists the golf clubs and the distances that each one is used for. It comes in quite handy!
I also use electronic braille. I use Perky Ducks to create electronic documents that I can either read by using a braille display, or by sending it to my Cyclone braille embosser, to create a hard copy.

Q: When you read braille which methods do you use?
I use both hard copy and electronic braille. I however, prefer to read books using the hardcopy version. If I am going somewhere, and I know I will be waiting for an extended amount of time, I grab a braille book to take along with me. Whenever I travel, I also pack a braille book. The plane is a great place to read braille!

Q: Do you use braille at home and/ or work?
I do use braille at home and at work. At home, other than the previously mentioned usages, I use braille to label my appliances such as my stove, microwave, washer, and dryer. I label my medications, spices, food, and various beauty & skin care lotions.
At work, other than creating meeting notes I have recently labeled things throughout the office. Working for Easter Seals, and what we stand for, we are in the process of making the office accessible for all. My part was to go around the entire office, and create necessary braille labels and post them. This included such labels as names of rooms, emergency exits, stairwells, and the microwave.

Q: Give a detailed description of how braille impacts your life.
Braille impacts my life in several different ways. However, I feel the number one impact is the amount of independence it has given me, and for so many things. I hate to rely on other people for simple tasks like finding a spice or can of food I need, setting the oven, heating up food in the microwave, reading my medications, and many other chores. I also believe my daughters like it too, so I don’t have to keep asking them for help.
Braille is also very important to me because it gives me the ability to read and write. I can read books, magazines, recipes, and even do it when the lights go off.

Q: In your city do you have access to braille?
For living in the second largest city in New England, I wish there was more access/ exposure to braille material/ signage. Yes, there is braille on elevators, most entrances to restrooms, and some ATM machines. We do have quite a few restaurants that have braille menus, you just need to ask.

Q: Do you have any braille games?
Yes, I do! I have braille playing cards, Uno cards in braille, and a King Cribbage game that has been modified in braille. My family and I love to play dominos, and I have a magnetic set with tactile dominos. I also have coloring books with raised tactile dots.

Q: As a braille user what would you say to a blind person who does not know braille to convince them to learn it?
Well I have said different things to different people. But the main point I try to convey to each of them, is to, at least learn the alphabet. Knowing just the alphabet will give you so much independence. Just look at all the things I am able to do by myself, because I took the time to learn braille.

Q: Do you have any cute or novel story to relay that someone has done with braille?
I have two that come to mind. First, I remember shortly after finishing my braille literary 4 course, my mother gave me a card. My mother had taken a braille transcription course when I was young. It had nothing to do with me, since my vision was fine, she just wanted to do it. Well she brailled the message onto the card. It was the first card I was able to read since losing my sight and learning braille. I was so touched, I started to cry. My daughters have also sent me letters from summer camp in braille. They used a portable braille label maker. They would braille the sentences, cut the label, and then stick them on to a piece of paper to make the letter.
Secondly, when I could see, I was a fanatic about taking pictures, especially when the girls were young. Well, for Christmas one year, they created a photo album for me. They got out that braille label maker and labeled the pictures! This is a present I will treasure forever, not only because I can read it, but because my girls took the time to make it for me! Another emotional time for me.

Q: What are your opinions of braille?
I can only reiterate what I have already stated. For me, learning and knowing how to read and write in braille is literacy, which in turn, has given me so much more independence throughout my Daly life, both at home and at work.

I want to thank my editor for taking the time out of her busy schedule to share her thoughts, views, and experiences with braille. As always remember braille users do it with feeling. Don't complicate life with gadgets when you can complement it with braille. Stay on the dotted line of life! Until next time, take care.

April 2019

Hello Readers!
As you all know I write about braille because I enjoy using it, both for reading and writing. Also, I am a huge advocate for blind and visually impaired people learning braille in order to gain more independence within their own lives. There is a way those of you who either are Wanting or contemplating learning braille to do it! That is through the Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired, formerly known as the Hadley School for the Blind.

Hadley is the largest provider of distance education for those who are blind or visually impaired. They are also the largest educators of braille throughout the world, serving over 10,000 students annually. Classes are free, and they are also offered to family members of blind or visually impaired students. Interested individuals can go to the website and complete the enrollment application online.

Once enrolled, there is a wide selection of courses to choose from. These include, but are not limited to the following categories; independent living, technology, business, literature, science, and recreation.

No, I did not forget braille, here are just a handful of the braille courses Hadley has to offer:
Braille Literacy 1: tactile readiness
Braille Literacy 2: learning the braille alphabet
Braille Literacy 3: uncontracted braille, UEB version
Braille Literacy 4: uncontracted braille, UEB version

The below portion of this article was written by Karen Santiago.
If there is any one of you saying to yourself, “I am too old to learn braille now.” I have someone for you to meet! Clarice Cocco, who resides in Texas, is 92 years young and completed the entire braille literary series. She received the Hadley’s Braille Student of the Year award last fall.

While Clarice’s vision wasn’t so stable, she wondered what she would do if she couldn’t read or write anymore. Terry, a representative from the blind services of Austin, told her that there was braille for that. At that time, at the age of 84, Clarice said, “Oh, I’m too old for that!” Then a year later, Clarice thought learning braille would be a good idea. She talks about it as if Terry planted the seed, and it took a year for it to mature.

Clarice enrolled in the Hadley School, and began the braille literary series at the age of 85. It took her six years, but she did it, completing all four parts of the braille literary series. Not only that, but she did the majority of her braille lessons with a slate and stylus! Clarice uses braille to label many things, such as her hangers to identify clothing, her crochet hooks, and her various cards in her wallet.

When asked why she decided to learn braille later in life, these were her remarks.
It took me a long time to decide to do it, but I have never regretted it for one moment. I find these little things that I am able to do have made me more independent, and it was worth the time it took me to learn braille.”
She added that it was great to be able to work at her own pace and that the staff was extremely helpful and encouraging. She concluded our talk with these words, “Really, we are never too old to learn.”

I want to publically thank Karen and Clarice for the above article. I must congratulate Clarice for successfully completing the braille literacy course and for doing it later on in life! Well folks, here was another living example of a person putting their mind to completing something and successfully caring it out!

As always, why complicate life with gadgets when you can complement it with braille. Braille users do it with feelings! Finally, remember to stay on the dotted line of life!
Talk with you again in May, and stay safe!

May 2019

Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats & Love Notes

Isn’t it wonderful when we can find a product labeled in braille? We know then that the company took the time to consider the needs of the blind community. Well, Kellogg’s has gone a step further. Read the below Q&A I had with Emily Minardi, Associate Marketing Director of Rice Krispies Treats.

How did you (and NFB) come up with this idea?
Rice Krispies Treats believes love and support are the most important back-to-school supplies. For the last few years, Rice Krispies Treats has provided parents and family members with the opportunity to send their children a sweet treat with a write-on wrapper for notes of encouragement.

However, with more than 62,000 children who are blind and low-vision in elementary through high school across the United States, Rice Krispies Treats realized not every child is able to experience written love and support. By partnering with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), we created accessible “Love Notes” including Braille stickers and re-recordable audio boxes that are inclusive of children who are blind or low-vision.

Rice Krispies Treats worked closely with the NFB throughout the entire process of creating the Braille stickers and re-recordable audio boxes to ensure they are user-friendly to those who are blind or have low-vision. We also worked directly with NFB members for trial of the “Love Notes” Braille stickers and re-recordable audio boxes.

Why did Kellogg’s decide to do it?
Kellogg has a larger connection to this cause with W.K. Kellogg having lost his sight for the last decade of his life and continued to work at the company full time for a number of years afterwards. Inclusion is in our DNA at the Kellogg Company. Everyone is important, and we want each child to be able to feel loved, supported and acknowledged.

Can you describe the braille Love Notes and the audio box?
The “Love Notes” Braille stickers are heart-shaped to match the space on Rice Krispies Treats writable wrappers for written notes. Each Braille sticker sheet includes eight uplifting phrases for parents and family members to share with children, from “You’ve Got This” to “Love You Lots.”

For children who are auditory learners or don’t read Braille, the re-recordable audio box holds a Rice Krispies Treats crispy marshmallow square inside and when opened, plays a 10-second pre-recorded auditory message. The audio box messages can be re-recorded more than 1,000 times, offering opportunities to share love and support throughout the entire school year.

How can someone get the Braille Love Notes?
Currently, people can order the “Love Notes” Braille stickers at: RiceKrispies.com/Love Notes
at no charge, while supplies last. We’re still discussing what the future might hold for this program, so nothing is concrete at this juncture; however Capable, Kellogg’s disability-related business/employee resource group, was closely involved in the program and is exploring future opportunities for collaboration with the National Federation of the Blind.

How has the response from the public, and blind community been?
We’ve received a lot of positive feedback on the Braille stickers and audio boxes and parents have shared some heartwarming stories and comments. Here are a few amazing examples we saw on Facebook:
Video comment: www.facebook.com/ChinaMom
Video comment: www.facebook.com/courtney
“We just received ours and my daughter was so curious! She is legally blind and deaf. It was great that not only did it come with the stickers and treats, but it also came with the letter in Braille on top of being written out and also an alphabet card for others to learn! Thank you for thinking of the blind/low vision community!”, Dana H.

“Thank you for sending our daughter her letter and Braille stickers she loved them!!! ? ? ? ? ? and 3 different flavors of Rice Krispies! So much love to you all for doing this” – Amanda W.

“Thank you! My daughter will love these.”, Megan P. (shared photo of her daughter who is blind holding her cane)

“Thank you for finding a way to include our children. Can’t wait to send this to lunch with my daughter.”, Brittany C.

“As a teacher of the visually impaired, I am VERY impressed. Thank you Kellogg's Rice Krispies for being so thoughtful and inclusive!”, Delaney C.

“Everything needs a chance and a change, I'm glad this is being addressed where it matters most. Thank you Kellogg's Rice Krispies??”, Tracy M.

Can you provide us with contact information?
To learn more about Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats, please visit our Contact page online or call 1-800-962-1413 between 9:00am and 6:00pm ET, Monday through Friday.

Website: Rice Krispies Contact

Is there anything else you would like to add?
We found the strongest emotional connection to this product came from parents, siblings, grandparents and family members of individuals who are blind. Teachers and administrators from public schools have been using the products as a learning tool for sighted students and students who are blind, encouraging inclusion. Current and retired teachers, as well as administrators from local and regional schools for the blind, have been using the products as rewards and prizes for blind students. National organizations for the blind have featured the products at events and conferences as an example of a successful program and motivation for new ideas.

Here is a link to assets (a press release, imagery of the products, a fact sheet, a video/b-roll, etc.)
Rice Krispies Information

As always, why complicate life with gadgets when you can complement it with braille. Braille users do it with feelings! Finally, remember to stay on the dotted line of life!

June 2019

Happy June to everyone,
For our readers in the northern hemisphere, enjoy the start of summer! For those of you experiencing the start of winter, keep warm!
I had a very busy month of May with a trip to the states, celebrating my mother’s birthday, and Mother’s Day! Before leaving to visit with my relatives in Washington State, I had made a few braillables to give to my young nieces and nephews.
I gave my youngest nephew, 4 years old, a sailboat braillable. He figured out that the picture was a sailboat right away! My two nieces each received a braillable of small hearts framing a large square piece of pink paper. They both told me secretly that they were going to draw a picture in the middle and give it to their mom as a Mother’s Day card, and they did! Finally, for my 8-year-old nephew, I gave him a braillable of a truck. He said, Ah, cool!” So, as you can see these braillable pictures aren’t just for blind/ low vision people to enjoy.
Below find the directions to make these fairly easy braillables, and share them with others.

Sailboat:
1. Space once, dots 4-5-6, CH (dots 1 & 6).
2. Space once, dots 4-5-6, space once, CH (dots 1 & 6).
3. Space once, dots 4-5-6, space twice, CH (dots 1 & 6).
4. Write ED (dots 1, 2, 4, & 6), x four times, n.
This sailboat is a simple figure. It can be made as large as you want by using dots 4-5-6 for the mast, increasing the number of spaces by one for each line added. Make the boat length correspond to the width of the sail.

Heart:
1. Write s, e, i, WH (dots 1, 5, & 6).
2. Write GH (dots 1, 2, & 6), space twice, A R (dots 3, 4, & 5).
3. Space once, e, i.
This is a very simple heart to make. That is why I decided to frame the paper with a bunch of these. Try making these small hearts, you can be very creative!

Truck:
1. Write p, 5 c’s, TH (dots 1, 4, 5, & 6).
2. Write l, space 5 times, dots 4-5-6.
3. Write l, 5 spaces, dots 4-5-6, i, c twice, WH (dots 1, 5, & 6).
4. Write l, space 5 times, dots 4-5-6, space 4 times, c, TH (dots 1, 4, 5, & 6), o.
5. Write v, IN (dots 3 & 5), c, EN (dots 2 & 6), 2 hyphens (dots 3 & 6), number sign, (dots 3, 4, 5, & 6), 2 hyphens (dots 3 & 6), IN (dots 3 & 5), c, EN (dots 2 & 6), number sign (dots 3, 4, 5, & 6).
6. Space once, e, hyphen (dots 3 & 6), i, space 5 times, e, hyphen (dots 3 & 6), i.
This braillable is a bit more complex. Take your time, especially with the last two lines. This is a side view of a truck with a box-like trailer, a cab, a back and front wheel, and a light on the front.

The idea can be expanded to make a school bus, using a series of contractions for (a full cell) as windows.

Thank you for reading my article! Why complicate life with gadgets when you can complement it with braille. Braille users do it with feelings! Remember to stay on the dotted line of life. Stay safe and chat with you again in July!

July 2019

July is upon us, where has the first half of 2019 gone! I want to send out a happy birthday to all my fellow Canadians for Canada’s birthday on July 1st! Also, happy 4th of July (Independents day) to all the American readers!

Over the last 5 years of writing the Braille Highway, I tried covering as many subjects I could find, and that I thought would be of interest to the readership. At the end of May I realized to my surprise, that I have left out a significant segment of the blind population by not covering some deaf-blind issues, or at least how important braille can be to them. I reached out to an instructor of braille who teaches both blind and deaf-blind students. Find below a little something she wrote about her experiences. As always, I look forward to receiving readers emails and encourage you to continue sending me them, just use the email address at the top of this article.

Braille Instructor for the Deaf-blind
My Name is Colleen Dupuis. I am a Braille Instructor here in Lafayette, Louisiana, at a place called the Deaf Action Center. My students are older individuals who are deaf, and eventually they will lose their sight. Most of the students take my class to learn and keep up there Braille skills to use the many different phone devices that they have.

I started working at the Deaf Action Center back in 1997. Throughout the years, I had to learn how to work and teach the deaf-blind. I did learn Sign Language, although not the best at it. However, I know enough to teach my students. Nowadays many deaf cultures don't use English Sign Language, instead they use American Sign Language (ASL).

When you are signing Using ASL, you may leave out words like of, the, is, etc., Shortening the time it takes to sign. So, when I am Explaining Braille to my students I have to break it down. I am totally blind myself, so when the student and I are signing to each other we have to sign in each other’s hands. Most of the time when a deaf-blind person is reading they have to keep one hand on the book and sign with the other.

Most of the time I just explain the contraction and give them a lesson to braille using that contraction. I Braille out all my lessons. I have use the book Braille Series.

I have taught individuals that are only Visually Impaired as well. This is a little different, because I can read along with them as they are vocal and do not have to sign.

Other methods I may use are the famous tennis balls to explain the dots of the Braille patterns. I also may use the Braille peg board. I enjoy working with my students, they are quite amazing! Just like you and me, they have no limits of what they can do. They cook, keep house, and use iPhone and other devices. To me, they really give the example of What God wants all to do (See Through Faith and not by sight).

I want to thank Colleen for writing a little about her experiences in teaching braille to deaf-blind students. Braille users do it with feelings! Why complicate life with gadgets when you can complement it with braille! Finally, remember to stay on the dotted line of life! Keep safe, and speak with you again in August!

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