My Braille Soap Box

To parents of blind kids,

I love braille. Braille is bumpy and cool. Braille is readable in the dark. Braille is literacy.

I often meet parents of blind children who wonder if braille is right for their child. Braille is always the answer in my humble opinion.

Recently, I responded to a Facebook post about partially sighted, yuck that word is so gross, kids and whether or not they should read braille. This was my response:

As for partially sighted kids learning braille … about 80 to 90 percent of blind kids are partially sighted. So for starters, throw that word out the window please! And, throw the idea that a tiny, minuscule amount of residual vision is best for literacy. Stop using low vision as a reason kids can’t, won’t, or take longer to learn braille.

As parents it is our responsibility to impress upon our kids the importance of literacy.

Let me tell you some harsh truths about braille, literacy, and employment as it pertains to blindness.

There’s a 70-75 percent unemployment rate amongst the blind.

Only ten percent of blind people read braille! Absolutely appalling.

Of those ten percent though, 90 percent of them are fully employed.

So, if you want the best for your kiddos, which I’m sure you do, you need to reframe your idea of literacy and start imagining the possibilities and opportunities that learning braille will bring about.

If kids are cheating and using their vision, which honestly, I’m not even sure why they would want to put their eyeballs near a braille page, then turn off lights. Tell them braille is for fingers, not for eyes. Sleep shade the kid. Give them incentives, just like if they were learning to read print.

learn braille yourself. Or just enough to know better and assist your kid through any humps.

Introduce them to blind adults.

Don’t make blindness seem like a tragedy or an inconvenience. Kids pick up on that.

My kids are sighted. I’m blind. If any of my kids use the excuse, I can’t see something to do something, I look at them, and we start laughing. If I need to I remind them that in this household we don’t use not seeing as an excuse. We all know to search with our hands at times, when our eyes can’t find something.

My sighted children don’t get why all blind people don’t read braille and ask me why so-and-so has their face pressed to a page to read. I always respond, “Great question.”

Seriously … think of things to say to encourage, or remind. Fingers on the page please. I tell lots of kids learning how to use a cane, tips on the ground please, because they like to use the butterfly technique a lot which is completely unhelpful. So eyes to the sky, fingers on the page, and tap your feet to the beat. I don’t know. Just have fun with it.

Thanks for letting me stand on my braille soap box today. 🙂 I really had to let that out.

Signing off for now,

Bay Area Blind Mom

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