i Steve, thanks so much for such a wide-ranging answer. That's one for my
I'm not far from Queen Alexandra College in Birmingham UK (well, it's an hour by train) and as I understand they teach Braille there, I'd go to the experts rather than slog through it all unaided - so no correspondence courses for me, I agree with you.
I've had a few remote encounters with Perkins braillers - I sat next to someone using one in a class, and was continually worried about this advancing lump of metal as it chugged towards my jaw! My ears weren't too keen on it either, but I got through.
Also, someone interviewed me for a job one time and took notes with a perkins. It was nerve-racking enough trying to pic my way through the interview room, populated as it was by creaky chairs, induction loop and one, if not two guide dogs, a wheelchair and this lumpish Perkins. Evey time I paused for breath, the good woman using it would push the carriage return, or equivalent, and so every phrase of mine was punctuated with the vbvbvbvbnmnmvbvbvcrunnsch noise. I was supposed to be coherent in this situation? Hmph! Well, I got the job!
A big point for me is I do have rather gnarled guitarist's fingers, so an assessment would be pretty interesting.
While I still have a little sight, and with macular degeneration you can never be quite sure how it might go, I might start off by looking at the symbols. though something tells me that's a bit like swimming with one foot on the bottom of the pool - mind you that's the sort of way I'm using the computer. A bit of both worlds.
I'm sure you're right about the limited vriety of Braille books on offer - it's only common sense. But on the other hand, it was always a challenge reading a book, and there is plenty of scope for my catching up with all the stuff I never got around to. No, I don't expect the latest contemporary novels, though it's a shame! On the other hand the audio book sector is so much better than it was a few years ago, I'll get my kicks somehow.
thanks a ot once again, Steve.
On Mon, 15 May 2006 22:27:48 +0100, you wrote:
Woud you consider a braille for beginners type of podcast? The sort of thing
I have in mind is spelling out what's involved in learning Braille, wht
equipment to use and what the advantages are once you can use braille?
I'll be the first one to tell you that to learn Braille if you so desire is a blind person's right, not a privilege. If you want to learn it, you should pursue it to the ends of the earth if you have to. Some state agencies won't teach it to you if you don't already know it because they'll use the excuse that you've gotten along without knowing it for this long in your life, you probably don't really need to know it now. To this, I say, balderdash! That's the polite answer, anyway. Who's to say you mightn't need to know it at some point in the future of your life, but at that time there mightn't be any possibility of actually teaching it to you--no local access to teachers or classes, any number of reasons.
Despite what others might say, I would steer you away from learning it via correspondence course, although many have done it thtat way successfully. Maybe after you learn the basics (Grade 1), a correspondence course might be good to take you to the next level (Grade 2), since it's building on what you'll already know at that time, but the very beginning stuff I firmly believe should be taught one on one, or at least in a very small class (less than five) so you can get the individual attention you'll need in the beginning.
As for equipment, well, we can do it the hard way or the easy way. The hard way will cost you about a Jackson ($20). The easy way, anywhere between five and fifteen Jacksons, depending on what you can find in the used Brailler market.
The inexpensive way--the way many of us learned Braille in school--was to learn to write it using a slate and stylus. This is a slow go, and if you write on anything except paper, can be very hard on the hands. A slate and stylus work by securing the paper to a board or metal guide with pins, then physically punching out the dots from the reverse side of the paper using the stylus, a short handle designed to be held by the palm and singers of one hand, with a semi-blunt point made of metal inserted into the center. In some situations, only a slate will do, so it's good at least to know how to use one should you need to.
The less stressful way is with a machine known as a Braille writer or Brailler for short. The Perkins Brailler is the gold standard of these devices. New they're about $300 or so, but you might be able to find a used one for a third or less of that price. There are other manufacturers that have been making Braille writers since probably the turn of the previous century, but none come close to working like a Perkins does. The two main differences between Perkins Braillers and all others are (1) with the Perkins Brailler, the embossing head moves, whereas with the others, the entire paper carriage moves, like the old manual typewriters; (2) while both Brailling machines roll the paper up into themselves and dole it out line by line every time the roller is rolled or the lever is depressed which rolls the roller, the Perkins machine does not use pins to secure the paper in place, while the other manufacturers use a closing clip assembly with three or four pins which actually puncture the paper and hold it fast.
Then there's the question of your vision. Will you learn to read Braille visually or tactually? If you have any problems with your hands or fingers, including neuropathy, heavy callousing from intensive manual labor, that's going to affect how you feel the dots. Some of it can be overcome with training, some can't. When you go for your first Braille class, someone will evaluate you for this.
And I also have to tell you, when it's all said and done and you learn the thing and are ready to tackle books, you're going to find out what we Braille readers have known since time immemorial. Braille is expensive to produce, so the quantity of material in Braille is very limited. You'll never read a daily newspaper in Braille. If you're waiting to read today's current novels in Braille, you'll be waiting until at least after the next presidential campaign, if not election, for them to show up in your regional library for the blind.
I think your goal of making Braille personally useful for labelling tasks is a very realistic one. That's what most people who learn Braille after school use it for anyway.
-- No virus found in this incoming message. Checked by AVG Free Edition. Version: 7.1.392 / Virus Database: 268.6.0/341 - Release Date: 16/05/2006