I am learning to read as an adult. 22 years ago I lost the majority of my sight (legally blind). For several years, I was considered high functioning, meaning I could see regular print with the help of very strong reading glasses. My attitude was, “Why should I learn braille? There is so much technology that I won’t need to learn it.”
20 years ago I took a course learning to write braille. Since I had no concept of how to read it, I used a cheat sheet ~ so I thought. I was using a diagram that showed where the dots were located if you were reading braille. So, of course all my lessons were wrong. Needless to say, I was frustrated and never finished the course.
Throughout the years people have suggested that I learn braille. I kept thinking of that course, using a slate and stylus, listening to a tape and feeling totally frustrated. I maintained my denial, using technology advances as an excuse. Meanwhile my frustration grew, as my vision deteriorated.
It has become impossible for me to read some of the labels on spices, even with glasses and magnifiers. When I have to read something, I have to find my glasses and a magnifier. If that doesn’t work, I put it under a CCTV. Even that doesn't work most of the time. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Hmmm!
My CBVH (NYS Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped) counselor suggested a course on “How to read braille” so that I can label things. Now, that made sense to me. Plus, my insanity made me ready.
Guess what? I am thrilled to be learning. I feel excited when I tell people; I have learned c, g and l in my first course (6 lessons). Today I am up to A-N, as well as 1-0.
It is REAL! I am accepting. I am thrilled with my progress. But…I feel pain with the loss. I am emotionally exhausted after a lesson. Yet, I laugh out loud as I am reading sometimes. When you read, you are looking at the letters, the word, and the sentence. My fingers are feeling these micro dots, while my brain has to process what letter it is, then put together a word using these letters. There are micro dots making the words, so there is a mini space between these words which I need to recognize in order to recognize. Are you getting the picture? Oh, and did I tell you that the lessons are the same lessons that were used in the 1930’s? Names like Ebb, Mabel, Ida, and Ada… Great names, but they sure throw me off sometimes. Thank goodness there are names such as Mike and Jill. Phew! Here I am - an adult reading, “Jill told Mike to climb the big hill.” “Ebb bagged a big cabbage.” I crack up, which is wonderful! The fact that I am reading these sentences, thrill me. I never would have thought a month ago, that I would be thrilled to be reading braille.
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear! Thank you God, for the teachers and their patience.