ABU(Senior group) Fine Work
“I prefer more books in Braille“
Sri Lanka M. Kamala Xavier(61/Female)
As a retired teacher I still cling to my childhood hobby, reading. I love quiet reading on my own, in the still of the night or the early hours of the morning. Books are wonderful companions, taking you to the forgotten past, the inaccessible present and the distant future.
Being a totally blind person from the age of two and half, all my educational activities were done in Braille. Born in to a poor rural family of nine children, I always had to manage with the minimum as a child.
I could never dream of possessing a tape recorder. So I relied heavily on Braille books. They did not cost me that much. Another great advantage in Braille books was that I did not require electricity, nor had to spend for batteries when using them. My fingers were adequate.
As a student in the hostel with sighted children I could quietly read my Braille books even at night without disturbing anybody. Even now as a grandmother I am able to read books without disturbing my sleeping granddaughter. If I was in the habit of listening to talking books, I wonder whether I would have had to forget about reading.
According to me reading a book and listening to a talking book are two quite different things. I have listened to a few talking books. In a talking book the voice of the reader must be pleasant enough to be listened to, for a number of hours. For example, a high pitched voice is irritating to the ears, when listened to at length. A tired or sleepy voice can kill the interest of the listener. Also, the pronunciation must be very clear. In addition, if the punctuation marks are not taken into serious consideration by the reader, what is read may not make proper sense. It is not a matter of reading sheer words. Reading for a talking book requires a great skill and dedication which many readers may not have. Thus a very interesting book might turn out to be dull and boring due to defective reading.
When you listen to a story, the reader’s voice can have an impact on the characters and incidents of the story. The tone and the style in which a story is read, can create in our mind mental pictures which are not our own. But when we read a story on our own, we can imagine them by ourselves.
As teachers, we always encourage students to read as much as possible. Out of the many benefits of reading, coming in to contact with the spellings of words is an important one. We learn most of our spellings from books. Specially in English you cannot guess the spellings of each and every word by just hearing it. e.g., words like “rendezvous, genre” etc. are very peculiar. The more you stay in contact with words, either with your eyes or your finger tips, the more you remember the spelling.
Braille books are also easy to be carried about, unlike talking books for which you also have to find the necessary accessories. I like to read books when I travel in private vehicles, for long distances.
When I attend seminars, sometimes we are given the notes of the lectures beforehand. When such notes are in Braille, it is very easy to follow the lecture along with the notes. But if such materials were given in the form of talking books we could not certainly play them during the lectures. When I go to conduct seminars, I like to have some Braille notes with me to refer to, in order to be certain that I mention everything that is necessary, and I also do not speak out of the point. It is a fact that our memories start failing as we grow older. But this sort of help can not be got from talking books.
As a retired teacher, I conduct tuition classes in English to young people. When I come across interesting articles while reading books and magazines, I cut and preserve them. These come very handy for me to read to my students. Certainly I cannot use talking books while doing classes.
Blind school students need Braille text books to follow the lesson better when the teacher is explaining it. Braille books were of immense use to me in my teaching career. I always took a Braille magazine with me to school to read when I was free. I could read my Braille books right in the midst of the classes without disturbing anybody.
I have my Braille books of addresses and phone numbers which I carry in my hand bag. My prayer book and my hymn book in Braille are of great help to me when I go to attend the church services. I have one of my bible books on my bed because reading the bible is the last thing I do for the day.
I will not give up reading Braille books as long as my fingertips allow me to touch and decipher those wonderful dots. I wish that more and more Braille books will be produced because Blind and Braille go hand in hand and they cannot be separated.