Imagine that you are making a recipe but the paper is blank, the spices are unlabeled, and any directions are in a code. This is the case for people who are blind or have a visual impairment. Spices, recipes, and oven settings all are unreadable without the skill of reading braille.
Braille is a code comprised of series of dots that compose letters, punctuation marks, and numbers. It also is a contracted code in which extra symbols are used to compact reading materials.
The Center for Vision Loss teaches people with visual impairments to master the complex braille code. At present, all lessons are conducted over the phone due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The students are a support for each other as they progress through this complicated code. Our braille instruction has become so popular that we have a beginner class, an advanced class, and a braille class for the Spanish language.
Each student has worked to expand his or her horizon with the aid of instruction and mastery of the braille code. Annie, a client who lost her sight due to a gunshot wound, has just labeled her DVDs in braille. Chuck, who has lost most of his vision due to age-related macular degeneration, has enjoyed being able to continue playing cards by using a set marked in braille.
When braille instruction can be done in person, the instructor illustrates how braille is use in all facets of daily life. For example, students learn how to set up a braille phone file, which happens to be set up in the opposite manner from an average print file. We look forward to resuming these classes when it safe to do so.
For many people with visual impairments, the understanding of braille is one of the most important steps in seizing their independence.
Dianne Michels teaches the agency’s braille classes. She can be reached by phone at 610.433.6018, Ext. 230, or at dianne.michels@CenterForVisionLoss.org.