Antipathy to Braille

Years ago, in a rehab program, I took a Braille class with other students, who, like me, had become blind in their adulthood. We discovered that this ingenious 6-dot alphabet was not difficult to memorize, even all the shorthand contractions. But it was difficult to feel. We scratched with our fingernails to determine how many bumps and where they were located, i.e., was that dots 1-4-5 and a “d” or 1-2-5 and, therefore, and “h?” And when the individual letters formed words, how could we feel one letter from another? Then, one line of words from another. We also often began reading a paper of Braille upside down and had to read many words to figure out that we weren’t reading it upright. It was challenging.

But the effort became more arduous because our instructor was determined to teach us Grade 1 and Grade 2 Braille in a 15-week session. Within 6 weeks, people in the class were falling behind, but she would not be deterred and pushed us forward.

Turned out that the greatest threat I could give members of that class was “I’ll send you a note in Braille.” So those students, except for one or two plus me, formed an antipathy to Braille.

Possibly other blind people have had encounters with similar instruction and formed a deep revulsion to Braille. But I recently read about a surprising new enemy of the tactile system–President Donald Trump.

Now this was a shock. Doesn’t he have bigger things to pick on than a tiny Braille cell the size of a fingertip? I mean, what’s up with this fight?

Turns out that he opposed Braille numbers on his elevators in the Trump Tower. “Get them off of there,” he ordered some underling.

“But Sir, it’s against the law.”

“No blind people are going to live in Trump Tower,” he reportedly said, which really hurt my feelings. I hadn’t planned on downsizing to an apartment there, but knowing that I’m barred from it, well, it kind of raises the rebel in me.

and really, what does he have against renting to a blind person. Two per cent of us come with sweetheart dogs, but, oh, wait. I actually read that he also has an antipathy to dogs, too. Gosh. Dogs and Braille cells, pretty threatening stuff! Who would have known?

 

 

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About Sally Hobart Alexander

Blinded at the age of twenty-six, I left California and elementary school teaching for life in Pittsburgh, Pa. There, I met my husband, got a Masters' degree in social work, had two kids, now 35 and 32, and became a writer. Surprisingly, the writing career led me full-circle to teaching, and I teach in Chatham University's M.F.A. program and lead two writing critique groups. Always, since the age of 26, I have traveled, not in the stereotypic darkness attributed to blindness, but a mist. My blog then, "traveling through the mist" will deal with issues in my culturally different life as a blind writer, teacher, speaker, and human being.
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