Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Some Thoughts on Braille

As I begin to delve more deeply into the AT field, going beyond a hobby to a profession I have found the tendency to disregard Braille displays as a important and necessary part of most blind individuals AT package rather depressing. In the field where Braille is perhaps most exciting and full of possibilities to dramaticly level the playing field between those of us who are blind and those who are not with displays and access to electronic Braille (limiting or all together eliminating Braille's historic space issues) there is a noted coolness towards the code. This is unfortunate to say the least, for one of the best ways to have a full accessible digital lifestyle is to have tactile as well as audible output.

This coolness towards Braille is in part due to the stereotypes stil so easily found about blindness. People wish to be viewed as "normal" and thus they squint and strain at a ten word per minute rate of speed, rather then learn Braille. Even at twenty five or seventy five words per minutes the issue still remains that most can read at one hundred words per minute or more with no strain in Braille. I find a system and indviduals that promote this foolishness of print worship to be misguided at best, and believe they are woefully misinformed on what "normality" consists of (indeed all who have known me for any length of time can atest to my lack there of). I find the fact that in today's environment of openness and change we still have our minorities and stereotypes.

I believe however that if I, who was a anti Braille nutter from high school on, can be converted to the way of Braille there is hope for the most stubbron senior or recalcitrent student out there. I trust that once individuals have a taste of the freedom reading gives one, as opposed to listening all the time to material, they will want more. I hope so at least.

I am planning on wrapping up the display petition in mid to late April. I think this will give it enough time to be signed without transforming from a labor of love to one of pain. I hope it will have some impact on things, though more and more I find myself in the plite of so many geeks, who fall passionately in love with some obscure bit of programming or some sub sub geek culture issue, which when he holds forth to the rest of the world he is stunned to find that the rest of the world doesn't care about his pet project. This has its amusing side to be sure, though I pray it will be many a year before I need the services of a Tech Addicts Anonimus group. Just give me a gallon barrel of straight espresso and some good SAM Net content and I will survive... Hopefully.

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