When I went blind, everyone asked me if I’d learn braille. At the time I thought, what’s the point, with screen readers and audio books? So I never really thought I’d do it.
Then back in March or so, I was having troubles with my right ear. Everything was muffled and it felt ike it needed to pop, but wouldn’t. I was starting to get really freaked out. If I plugged my left ear, I could barely hear, and I rely on my hearing. So I went to the doctor and it was severe allergies! Can you believe that? I’ve never really had allergies very bad, and my doc said sometimes people develop them later in life, and its not always itchy eyes and a runny nose. Sometimes people get fluid build-up back behind the ear drum, and thats what happened to me.
She gave me Clariton and a nasal inhaler, but they didn’t really do much. I finally bought some Zyrtec, and it cleared it right up. The ear still doesn’t hear as well as the left one, though.
It was after this experience that I decided I had better learn braille. Who knows if anything will ever happen to my hearing, ya know? I found out about braille output displays for computers and cell phones, and even looked at one at Saavi. Everything on the screen comes out on the braille output, just like a screen reader. Also, there are tons of things you can do with braille. You can label everything with a braille label maker. I’ve labeled my debit card, so I know which one it is. I’ve labeled my Harry Potter audio books. Computers won’t do that for you. You can also write braille, and thats portable. There are tiny little braille note takers. I don’t carry my laptop with me all the time, and recording devices can be cumbersome and expensive.
There is the normal braille for reading, music braille, math braille and science braille. Braille has gotten a lot less attention in recent years, and some blind schools are no longer even teaching children, and this makes me sad. We lost our vision, its possible we could lose our hearing.
Also, there is just nothing compared to curling up in bed with a book. I can do that with audio books, but if I need to pause it I gotta reach over and pause it. I don’t always travel with an iPod for portable books, and I never used to go to the doc without a book.
So, while braille is incredibly hard to learn as an adult, I believe it is an invaluable skill to have. I can’t always be certain that the rest of my senses will stay intact, so its best to load up on the resources I have, in my opinion.