[tabi] Fw: [Tektalkdiscussion] Fw: another side of the coin

  • From: "Lynn Evans" <evans-lynn@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 28 Jan 2010 21:59:01 -0500

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Bob Acosta 
To: tektalk discussion 
Sent: Thursday, January 28, 2010 3:49 PM
Subject: [Tektalkdiscussion] Fw: another side of the coin

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Bob Acosta 
To: Bob Acosta 
Sent: Thursday, January 28, 2010 10:56 AM
Subject: another side of the coin

From paul Edwards:      Here is an article that appeared in the local paper in 
Daytona Beach Florida which is a lot closer to what most of us believe than the 
NY Times piece.

Daytona Beach News-Journal 1/27/2010 


High-tech advances can't entirely replace system 


DAYTONA BEACH - Two students sat across from a teacher in a darkened room. 

Their fingertips rolled confidently across the bumpy text of the books during 
the one-hour lesson. 

''I love languages, so this is my opportunity to learn another,'' said Berline 
Mercy, who lost her eyesight after surgery to remove a brain tumor last year. 
''It's the language of Braille.'' 

Mercy, a 30-year-old registered nurse, started learning how to read again last 
November at the Division of Blind Services on Dunn Avenue. 

Even with major technological advancements, Braille remains the foundation of 
communication for the blind, although some studies indicate the use of the 
traditional reading system is on the wane. 

Amy Williams, a blind Braille instructor at the Daytona Beach facility, said 
computers, voice activation and large print can make life easier, but it will 
not replace the dotted code invented by Louis Braille almost 200 years ago. 

''What happens when the computer dies for people who can see? You go back to 
pencil and paper,'' she said. ''When the computer goes out for us, it's 
Williams lost her eyesight 30 years ago and remains a ''visual learner'' - 
someone who finds it much easier to retain information by reading it on paper 
rather than hearing it on an audio disk or tape. 

''If you were a reader, your medium is Braille,'' she said. ''And with 
high-tech you can't read things like labels on cans of food to determine 
whether it's can of soup or peas.'' 

Without Braille, a home-cooked dinner often could turn into a ''mystery meal.'' 

But the National Federation of the Blind recently reported that only 10 percent 
of sightless people today read Braille, compared with about half in the 1950s. 
That doesn't bode well for employment. The organization reported that 80 
percent of blind workers with good jobs are proficient in Braille. 

Reasons attributed to the decline include advanced text-to-speech technology, 
less emphasis on teaching Braille to blind school¬children and the expense of 
producing Braille books. The American Printing House for the Blind in 2007 also 
reported that less than 10 percent of the nation's 58,000 sightless youngsters 
use Braille as their primary method to read, compared to with half in the 

''People talk about Braille dying and that it's outdated,'' said Ike Presley, 
national project manager for the American Foundation of the Blind, after a 
recent training session he held in Daytona Beach Shores. ''It's not going to be 
outdated until print is outdated.'' 

For the sighted world, Presley rhetorically asks: ''Would you be willing only 
to hear things?'' He said day-to-day living for a blind person still requires 
Braille. Just reading a business card, or checking a phone number or unusually 
spelled name, would otherwise be impossible out in public. 

''Braille allows a person to have a reading and writing medium for both 
information access and for personal use,'' he said. ''Technology is not 
replacing Braille. It increases the availability to Braille, making it easier 
to produce and less expensive.'' 

Presley, who has lived with low vision his 56 years, said that in many places 
there's not enough classroom time dedicated to Braille, with children receiving 
training once or twice a week. He said the parents of sighted children would be 
out¬raged if their youngsters received such minimal time learning to read and 

He said the numbers regarding the use of Braille are deceiving since because 
more babies are surviving difficult deliveries because of medical advancements. 
Sometimes these children are blind, but many also suffer other physical or 
cognitive impairments that leave them incapable of learning Braille. 

''Twenty years ago, they might not have lived,'' he said. ''So the numbers are 
skewed because many people who are blind cannot actually learn Braille.'' 

Edward Hudson, 55, the center director at Daytona Beach facility, gradually 
went blind as a child and didn't learn Braille until sixth grade. 

''If you have a child with a vision problem, the earlier they start learning 
Braille the better,'' he said. ''The repetition and practice to learn the 
shapes and forms, the tactile feel, is important. It's a matter of literacy.'' 

Hudson said a strong advocacy movement exists among educators and professionals 
in the field to keep Braille a fundamental part of teaching for the blind. 
''Everything else is built upon it,'' he said, adding that math is next to 
impossible to do without Braille. 

Kay Ratzlaff is on the front lines of education, as the coordinator of 
resources for the Florida Instructional Materials Center for the Visually 
Impaired. She said Braille remains the foundation for learning. 

''Just listening is not the same,'' she said. ''You've got to have the 
foundation. It's like saying other (sighted) kids don't need print. Braille is 
the same thing as print for our kids. They can't do without it. Listening is so 

Donna Ross teaches a Braille course to future teachers at Florida State 
University. She said the state requires Braille to be taught in public schools, 
''unless you can prove something else is better'' for a student. 

''We want our teachers to know it and teach it,'' Ross said. ''It's not going 
anywhere. There's always going to be a need for Braille.'' 

Copyright © 2010 News-Journal Corporation 01/27/2010 

[Caption for picture below]: Fredrick Royal, 31, works Monday on a Perkins 
Brailler, which is like a typewriter, as Tasha Washington, 36, reads from a 
book in the Braille library at the Division of Blind Services in Daytona Beach. 

News-Journal photos/ SEAN McNEIL 


[Caption for picture below]: Berline Mercy, 30, lost her eyesight last year 
after brain tumor surgery. Above, she is learning to write Braille. 

[Caption for photo below] Fedrick Royal, 31, works on a Perkins Brailler in the 
Braille library at the Division of Blind Services on Monday. 

News-Journal/ SEAN McNEIL 


Paul Edwards, Director
North Campus Access Services
Room 6113
11380 Northwest 27 Avenue
Miami, FL 33167
Work Phone: (305) 237-1146
Work Fax (305) 237-1831
Home Phone: (305) 692-9206
Cell Phone: (305) 984-0909
Work Email: paul.edwards@xxxxxxx
Home Email: edwpaul@xxxxxxxxxxxxx


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Due to Florida's very broad public records law, most written communications to 
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available to the public and media upon request. Therefore, this e-mail 
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