I have the eye condition Aniridia and my visual acuity has varied hugely over the years. Although I went to a school for children/young people with visual impairments from the age of 7 (was at mainstream until then) I was not allowed to learn braille until I was 14, as I was considered as having enough useful vision (2/60 in one eye, finger counting in the other) not to need to rely on braille and could cope fine with large text and the use of CCTVs etc.
I had uncontrolled glaucoma despite numerous surgeries and therefore my parents were keen for me to learn braille since they did not know if I would lose more vision in the future. A 14 I lost some field vision in my ‘good’ eye and the school let me start to learn braille.
I am so very thankful to be able to know braille – here is a list of how I use it on a regular basis: —
- I am a braille teacher at a specialist school/college —
- I label food items/music/DVDs —
- I can join in at church as I have braille hymn books and a braille Bible —
- I can read menus when eating out —
- I can identify different medications —
- I can take notes quickly, when I am talking to someone on the phone for example or at work —
- I can write to friends —
- I can read in bed, on the train, anywhere really — it is a good party trick and a good way of making friendships offering to teach someone braille.
Despite my visual impairment (I am now totally blind) I am a visual learner and have auditory processing difficulties associated with my eye condition and therefore struggle to take in information presented to me in audio format, I really need a visual back-up to able to process information fully.
Having a braille display enables me to do this easily. Inputting text into my tablet or computer using my braille display or braille notetaker is also a very quick and effective method for me. I originally was employed by the school I work at to teach touch typing but since I lost all my useful vision that became more and more difficult for me for several different reasons and so thankfully I was able to switch over to teaching braille instead and this change worked well and the transition went very smoothly.
I went out with my sisters this last weekend, (they are both younger and sighted), we went to Pizza Express and I was given a braille menu. I can’t tell you just how much this meant to me, not to have to ask one of my sisters to read the menu for me and just to be able to read the choices, pick one and order it myself I didn’t feel singled out, or different, I felt just like my sisters.
By Jenny Langley