- Do not assume that the blind person you are talking to knows who you are. When you meet a blind person (let’s call him Max), let him know you are there (and not a passerby) by identifying yourself. Contrary to popular belief, blind people do not Carry a foolproof audio Rolodex in their head. It is especially difficult to recognize someone’s voice, when it appears out of context. Max might be accustomed to hearing Mary at the church social every Sunday, but if Mary runs into Max at the grocery store one day, Max might not be able to figure out who she is. Her voice is out of context. In a place where people are all about, Max can’t be expected to know who wants to say something to him unless you single yourself out. Max may be blind, but he is not necessarily deaf or mentally challenged. There is no need to shout or use monosyllabic words.
- PSST!!! Not all Blind people read Braille. In fact, it is estimated that only 10 to 25 % of Blind adults read Braille. With technology offering ‘talking'(screen reading) software programs such as ‘Jaws’, and ‘Guide’, Kurswell software for audible scanning, and DAISY (digital audio information systems) discs revolutionizing ‘talking books’, Braille has been given a run for its money. Personally, I like Braille. It is like the old days…me and my book in silence. But it is huge….literally. Braille books are bulky and take up a lot of shelf space. Not only that, but if you pile heavy stuff on top of your Braille book or magazine, the raised dots will compress. That makes it difficult to read. Braille has two forms or levels: Uncontracted (formerly known as Grade 1 Braille) and Contracted Braille (formerly known as Grade 2 Braille). Uncontracted, to put it simply is longhand. Each letter (Braille cell comprised of a different combinations of six raised dots) is used to spell the word. Contracted Braille is like traditional penned shorthand, and just as complicated! I find it very handy for labeling bottles, c.d.’s and everything else I need in my life. One more item on Braille…it travels ‘post free’ or ‘free matter for the blind’. Yeah, a good deal. I’ll tell you all about Access to Information Rights sometime.