WBU-AP(Senior group) Excellent Work
The Use Of Braille Audio Devices In Daily Life
Australia. Rebecca Maxwell (71/ Female )

I use both Braille and Audio Devices for their specific assistive potentials. While I can enjoy a light article or novel by using an Audio Device, I am a literate person in a literate society, and would therefore want to use all the advantages of literacy that other like-minded people value.
I used Braille for my studies, at school and university, and later, to have access to the textbooks that my students used in print, when I was a high school teacher of English, French and Latin. Without the texts in Braille, I could not have taught with precision, honouring my professional duty. With Braille I could pay attention to spelling and punctuation, syntactical form, and prose balance.
Later still, I taught literature to adult classes, choosing books I could obtain in Braille, or on tape.
When we worked on Shakespeare plays, or poetry, Braille was essential. But I did use recorded prose for quick overall reading of lighter material. Of course, if we did a play reading, I had to have the text in Braille. I am myself a writer, and participate in writing groups for which I write poetry, and do some literary criticism. In order to be involved in the editing and critiquing process, I receive the text from the sighted writer by email, and my computer converts it into Braille. Thus I have under my fingers exactly what the other participants have at hand in print. I could also write and send a report, or I could mark a copy of the original text with inserted suggestions.
My local library offers book discussion sessions monthly, in which they ensure that I can participate equally by choosing books which are also available in commercial audio recordings. Thus I am able to be involved with people in the local community whose interests are compatible with mine.
Items in my pantry and medicine cabinet are all labelled in Braille, as are my print books, and my personal documents. I prefer to be independent when seeking a document or book. I also label my taped books and my CD's and computer discs. I keep a Braille note-book in my back-pack for noting email addresses and phone numbers which I am given during the many meetings I attend.
Because I have a Braille computer, I can prepare notes for public speaking, and use them discreetly in presentations. Thus I have been able to conduct meetings, and to be the President of the Society of Women Writers of Victoria which is my state in Australia. I write my president's letter in Braille, and email it to the newsletter editor by means of the translation program in my computer.
Sighted people can receive information from pictures, colour, and other visual indications. We need to label items that can be identified visually without written words, for instance, through clear containers, or colourful packaging. So Braille will convey more than written information. Braille words, or symbols, clarify whether the jar contains jam or marmalade, and what is in the plastic packages in the freezer.
I have a small plastic measuring device for identifying my bank notes. The intervals in the measurer are embossed lines with a Braille number. By sight, the familiar note is identified without the need for its numerical value. Evidently, Braille has a very wide application in allowing me and other vision impaired people to live more successfully.
Many of the appliances in my house are marked so that I can use them correctly. These include the washing machine, the oven, my electric blanket, and the various keys on the bunch.
As I show sighted friends photos of my family, I know which is which because I write the name and date on the back of each photo. I also have an audio "album" of my children, when they were growing up. The tapes are labelled with the name and date of each child: Braille and audio here are mutually supportive.
The specialized Braille-oriented computer makes the most significant contribution to my being able to be part of the particular community I enjoy. When necessary, I can have a book or document scanned, store the text on a compact flash card, then read it in Braille on my Braille Lite Millennium. So Braille and technology complement each other in enriching my life. But without the Braille system, the technology would not offer me true literacy. My work life, my home life, and my interests and pleasures all benefit from the use of Louis Braille's remarkable code. It is my special delight to relax with a volume of Braille to read, whether it is prose or poem. The quiet and unmechanical relationship between me and the text is a peaceful blessing.
Because of my interest in writing poetry, I have been able to show how blind and vision impaired children can have poems which honour their own experience. I have written a poetry book for children which portrays experience through other senses than sight. It is important for blind children to have their own experiences validated. The fact that the author also has these experiences through other senses than sight, offers a possible role model. Without a shared literacy, I could not share this intimacy with these children.
As a blind adult whose poetry is generally respected, I can exemplify the reality of our lives. Hopefully I can also show my reading public that our perceptions are as artistic and varied as are those which depend on sight.
It is important to welcome new technology which facilitates access to Braille. However, neither Audio Devices, nor other electronic technology should be seen as displacing Braille. Braille is literacy by touch, as inkprint is literacy by sight. We cannot accept the loss of literacy for either population. In every area of my daily life I am grateful to be able to choose the right modality for my need.


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