Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The B Word and The Bumpy Road

A large parcel clearly from RNIB with the Articles for The Blind postage stamp.
When my Dad proudly announced on the phone to me at lunch that my RNIB parcel had arrived; I knew I had done it. I have hereby made the decision to become a braille reader, and let my useless eyes get on with whatever the are there for (something I am yet to gather). I am now stepping in the field which was once filled with grenades- the 'B word'- Braille. Braille has always been an imaginary safety net for me- imaginary as in, although asking, I was never offered it through the Education Authority but it was a nice, warm, fuzzy way of envisioning that I will always be able to read.

A few years ago I learnt grade one braille on my own through the internet. I loved using the nifty skill, but I could never in a million years depend upon it. So I carried on using my eyes, which read a few lines of text and then do the equivalent of a snail curling into it's shell. When my eyes say it's game over, it really is game over. Everyday it is painful to read, it's like I'm cursed with the ability to see text, making learning braille supposedly unjustifiable. Until now. 

I have taken matters into my own hands so to speak. Reading is supposed to be painless- yet when I do it isn't, suggesting the fact: 'can I actually read print?'. The words move and twist and disappear, what I can see at the start of the day is not there by the end. Frankly- I've had enough of it. My decision was made with the help of the Audioboo community and my parents ordered me 'Fingertips' grade two braille course from RNIB and it arrived in a huge box. I will work on it at home everyday and it will be undoubtedly hard, but I will get there. 

And, as if the situation isn't bizarre and sudden enough, I want to be plausible in grade two braille by september when I go to college so I can revise and study until my mind is tired, and not my eyes. I plan to apply for a Braillenote apex (a braille computer) in my section 139a (a transfer document with all my requirements and needs in). I think this will get me off to a really good start at college and I am so excited! 

Fingertips braille course unpackaged, a pile of yellow braille books, a green box of CD's and a large print bookMeanwhile at school it's all a struggle. All my revision guides are in size 24 print, which due to my nystagmus increase I can no longer read, so I have to try and find electronic copies of EVERYTHING so that the speech software on my mac can read them to me. Sure, I could get bigger print, but the next size they could offer me is 32 which is around the size they would suggest braille anyway (supposedly) and it would make one revision guide huge and spine breakingly heavy. 

I'm standing up for myself now- this is what I want. I have a right to be able to read like everyone else!

I will label any posts about my braille learning journey under the tag "A Bumpy Road"- because I'm sure it will definitely be!  


  1. Hey b buddy I'm using this course too. Good luck I'm sure you'll master it. Gr2 contractions are easy after awhile. Reading speed is the thing that takes time & practise.

  2. Good luck dear!
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  3. i'm finishing my grade 2 as well by useing finger print! you be there before you no it, what are the green covers?