Bristol Braille Technology

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RE[4]: Experiences with Braille

Keith

I, too, was born blind and began to learn braille in kindergarten. I used Braille pretty much exclusively for my education until the end of high school. Once I reached the university level here in the U.S., I found that very few books were available in Braille and that I had to modify my learning style so that I could learn by studying audio books.

Fortunately, I was able to make this modification successfully and now work in higher education as well as serving as a pastor of a small congregation. However, as a previous poster has said, when push comes to shove, I want Braille under my fingers. It is still my preferred medium for learning, though I also learn quite well from speech in its various forms.

I use a refreshable Braille display with my computer on a daily basis on my job. In addition, I use a Braille display with my iPhone for all of my notes for sermons and for other public speaking engagements.

Finally, we have a service here in the U.S. known as bookshare.org. Once a book has been scanned and donated to this service (and there are more than 100,000 books in its library), I can download it and be reading it in minutes on my Braille display. Not only has this given me many hours of great reading, but I also read aloud to my wife when we travel.

My biggest frustration is the cost of Braille displays. The only reason I have mine to use is because of my job at the university. Were I to leave this job, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to get one of my own. As someone who trains others in the use of assistive technology, I can attest to the fact that many of the people I work with would love to have access to a Braille display, but cannot due to their cost.

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