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National Braille Week Blog

Text: National Braille Week 2021. 11-15 October. Icon is of a hand reading Braille.

Here at Sight and Sound Technology, Braille is so much a key part of what we do in the technology we support but it’s also a wider passion in the company because we want people to have the tools that allow them to have access to information. For so many people, Braille provides that.

During National Braille Week recently, we held a panel discussion with some guests who are just as passionate about Braille as we are.

What Braille means to us

Ilka Staglin, Director of Education, ChildVision

I came to Braille in a different way to most people, because I’m fully sighted. About 24 years ago, I was teaching in the University of Sheffield and I became a personal tutor to a totally blind student, who was a Braille reader. I started to learn Braille to support him because I found that the provision of material was very slow.

Roger Firman, Chairperson of UKAAF

Braille has always been with me and it is so important to me – I couldn’t live without it. I use Braille every day, both personally and professionally. In my business, I transcribe written music into Braille, and of course, I use it as a musician, but for reading and leisure purposes.

 

The Braille learning journey

Matthew Horspool, The Braillists Foundation

Learning Braille was fun – using Braille was not so much fun! But as I did it more and more it made sense and, by the time I got to secondary school, I used it all the time. It was also completely normal for me because I went to a school for the blind so I had expert Braille tuition from a very young age. In spelling tests, I had to write the word in grade one and grade 2 so you knew how to spell the word and how to contract it. My first job after university was in a similarly small blind school and I couldn’t believe that they didn’t do spellings in grade 1 and 2, so I quickly introduced that.

Ilka Staglin

My head of Department at the time was very supportive. I did an introduction to visual impairment course, where I got some basic Braille tuition. I got some books, did self study and muddled through with some help from the student I was working with. It was tough because I didn’t have a community around me but I enjoyed it and it really benefited me. I taught language classes and taught the student I was working with. Teaching sighted and non sighted is absolutely feasible but you need to put the time in and prepare well. There is work involved but the mutual benefits are huge

Roger Firman

I have memories of learning to read grade 1 Braille and then, when I was about six, I was introduced to the writing frame and that took me a while to get to grips with, but the next step was to move on to the Perkins Brailler. I was introduced to Braille music at around seven or eight. At that time of life, you have no idea where these things are going to lead but, in my case, it’s been so significant to what I now do and I’m so glad I had those opportunities.

To hear the contributions in full, find the full discussion at: https://youtu.be/2_x7MfvQssU

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