Braille Day

This week we celebrated World Braille Day, which is held annually on January 4 to commemorate Louis Braille's birthday. We discussed braille literacy, and how learning braille has impacted our daily lives.

January 2, 2020

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Audio Transcript


Embracing Braille – Braille Day

Presented by Vileen Shah

January 2, 2020

Vileen S: Okay. I am Vileen Shah, your host. And with me, your co-host, Elyse Heinrich. We both welcome you on this very first day of 2020, but not before wishing you a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year. I also wish you happy World Braille Day and we are going to talk about it. What is the World Braille Day?

All right. So before I started saying about World Braille Day, the first presentation comes to my share and that is about the World Braille Day. So let's talk about, what is this World Braille Day? We will discuss this topic with a reference to each word separately as it is overlapping. And I mean to say, we will talk about the word world, then braille, and then day. And of course, we will combine them all. But before you all get confused or those who are wondering what I'm talking about, let me tell you. On January 4th, the birthday of Louis Braille is celebrated as the World Braille Day. There are several days celebrated at the level of the world, at a global level. There is something called Nonviolence Day, which is October 2nd. International Yoga Day, which is probably June 21. Human Rights Day, December 10. And many more. To add to this, now we have the World Braille Day. The United Nations in its Declaration of December 17, 2018, decided that the birthday of Louis Braille will be celebrated as World Braille Day on January 4th, every year. So we are only two days ahead of this celebration and, for me, today is the day to celebrate. So let's celebrate. Let's share. Let's understand what is the World Braille Day.

Let me talk about the world. We, of course, mean global. The celebration that you find all over the world. The celebration that has global implications. The celebration that is good for all people of the world, all over the world, worldwide, in every country. And that is so appropriate because braille is used all amongst in every part of the world, in every country of the world, and mostly almost in every language. Braille can be written, and braille can be read. This is so much, too, when we learn about Louis Braille's life. Louis, sometimes pronounced as Louis, but the French people like to say Louis, L-O-U-I-S, Braille, was born in Coupvray, which is near Paris in France, in 1809. So if he had been alive, he would have been 211 years. The world celebrated his 200th birthday in 2009. That just reminds me a little sidebar that I like to share many times, that in one of the daily email systems, it is called A Word a Day. And that is some organization called Wordsmith sent an email about two luminaries who were born in 1809, Charlies Darwin and Abraham Lincoln. We all know that Charles Darwin did the theory of evolution of life on earth. And of course, who doesn't know Abraham Lincoln? Not only in the United States, but people all over the world know the name of this President of the United States under whose guidance the social structure of the United States changed a lot, as you all know. Slavery was abolished and all that.

When I read this, I said, "No, this is not enough." So I wrote back to Wordsmith. I said there was a third luminary that you forgot to mention and that was Louis Braille. And that was gladly accepted, and the facilitator of Wordsmith immediately changed his email and said that, yes, the third one was Louis Braille. And that's very true. Louis Braille, who started going to school at the age of nine in a regular school. In those days, imagine, the beginning of the 19th century, that wasn't easy. And by listening to the professors or teachers or his classmates reading to him, he memorized almost everything that any first grader was supposed to do. And then, when he was 10 years old, he received a scholarship to go to Royal Institute for the Blind in Paris. So he went there. And in those days, people were taught how to read raised print letters. Louis Braille mastered that, but he wasn't happy.

I'm just telling something that most of you know, probably, that during his time in school, a military person, a general or a colonel, I think he was, Charles Barbier, visited his school and mentioned about the 12-dot system that they were using in the army that was a dot-based system, but not embossed dots, of course. Dots made by ink. And this was used so that the soldiers can read a message, even in the darkness. So let's all understand one basic difference between print and braille. Print is a linear system. And those who know how to write in print, they can understand this better. It means that you draw a line, or lines, a straight line or a line over a line and that's how you make letters in print. Whereas braille is a system of dots that Louis Braille developed after listening to Charles Barbier. And then, after trying and trying, he embossed dots on the paper, all 12 dots. Learned the system that was being used in the army. And then he realized that all 12 dots do not come under the fingertip. So he reduced it to nine, realized that no still, all nine dots, he's not able to read at the time underneath his fingertip. And that was one of those situations he encountered while reading the raised print letters. Many times, one single letter would not ... He wouldn't be able to read, underneath his fingertip, one single raised print letter. So he wanted to get rid of that situation.

So after seeing that nine dots do not stay well under one fingertip, he reduced it to six. And he said, "Wow, this is fine. I can feel all six dots at a time, like touching one finger at a time." Underneath the fingertip, the most you can have is two rows of three dots each, six dots. Now, his concern was how to accommodate theses six dots and have all the alphabet and numbers and punctuation, how to do that. And he figured out ... He was good at math. He figured out that, out of the six dots, he can make 63 different signs. And then he was happy. He prepared the alphabet and he prepared the punctuation and, here you go, the braille system was invented. He was only 15 years old. But of course, as usual, the authority does not accept. So his system was not recognized by the Royal Institute for the Blind, where he was later on even a teacher. So what he did, he started using this system among his friends. And it is so ironical that, after his death, his system was recognized, first, by the British Royal Institute for the Blind. And soon after that, it was accepted, recognized in France, and even the Royal Institute for the Blind which was against this now started the braille system. And they decided to call this script made on dots by the name of Louis Braille and that's how we have this braille system. Soon after that, braille started becoming popular and started being used all over the world. Initially, it was in French. Therefore, there was no W because the French language does not have a W, but later on it was added. So that modification was fine. In the United States, some other experiments were made, but they're all based on dots. One experiment somebody made was called Moon type braille. And another one was instead of having three dots in a vertical shape, they tried to have three dots horizontal. So you will have one, two, three. Dot number one, two, three going from left to right. And after that, four, five, six. Below that, one, two, three, going left to right. And that system was also practiced long time. The one thing about the United States, I don't know if I can say Americans, we like to be different from others. Yes, we are different in many ways. And of course, sometimes they do not succeed being different, but they like to be different and that's what I love. I would love to be different and then fail than just follow the solution. So that's great. The system based on horizontal dot system did not work because you do not feel all three dots, horizontally set underneath one finger. And that was the genius of Louis Braille. What he realized 211 years ago, or let's minus 15 out of that, nearly 200 years ago, that six dots are the right number of dots and now, of course, we also have an eight-dot braille used on a braille display. I don't like it. Some people like. It's personal view, but we will not go into detail about that now. So obviously, that was something that is to be recognized. And soon after that, braille script started getting customized to different languages. I can tell you about my own experience and knowledge here because, in Indian languages, there is something that I can share as my first knowledge. In Indian languages, we have 12 vowels and 36 consonants. So as against 26 English letters in the alphabet, we have 48. Obviously, we have to change certain braille signs and customize it to the needs of the language. And that was done. And for over 125 years, braille is being used in India and so is true about many other countries. And as of now, to of nearly 200 countries in the world, braille is being used. So braille has a worldwide implication. Braille is good for people who are blind or visually impaired. And braille can be used as a means of reading and writing in almost every language of the world. And therefore, we have the World Braille Day.

The World Blind Union, WBU, is the prime proponent of the World Braille Day. And they had been celebrating World Braille Day for years and they were trying to get it recognized by the United Nations and their committee. They succeeded. So thanks to the World Blind Union. The World Blind Union is also in charge of the Louis Braille Memorial in Coupvray, which is the original house where Louis Braille lived, is now a museum of braille and anyone can go and see that. I had a chance to visit that when I attended, as a keynote speaker, the 200th, or bicentennial, birthday celebration of Louis Braille in Paris. So I was lucky about that.

Well, before I end, I would like to share some statistics. There are, according to one estimate, 39 million people who are blind all over the world and 203 million people have vision problems. So there is almost, if you put [inaudible] together, is close to one quarter billion. There is something like seven billion people in the world. Out of that, a quarter billion of the people suffer from the vision loss, which is nearly, if you put the math or the numbers together, nearly one person has a vision problem out of three and a half. Or in other words, you can say that among every 3 of 1 persons in the world, one has a vision problem, either blind or partially sighted. Sometimes, people also call partially blind. It's one in the same thing. People have some sight, but not totally blind. So they are also called partially sighted. Here, in the United States, we also call legally blind. And there are certain definitions, of course. If your vision acuity is 20 by 200, then you are legally blind. And I think I'm right about that. So there are people who are legally blind, who are totally blind, who are partially sighted. And also, here's an interesting thing. The people who have the vision loss, although they are not legally blind, they do not fall in the definition of blindness, but they do have vision loss. If you do not feel that I'm making it too personal, but I can set an example. My wife has lost very thorough vision because of her diabetic retinopathy. By definition, she's not legally blind. She's able to read regular print and she's even to see well. However, because of the loss of peripheral vision, she cannot drive. And certainly, she is not fully sighted. I gave you this example that I know, but I'm pretty certain there are hundreds and thousands of people who suffer from the vision loss. So when we talk about the people who are blind, totally blind, partially sighted or legally blind, they're the ones who need to use braille. And braille has served as a tremendously effective means to liberate people from dependence on reading and writing. And therefore, millions and millions of blind or partially blind or partially-sighted people have made their career using braille all over the world that are doctors, lawyers, legislators, and of course, there are professors and teachers. And you find blind and partially-sighted people using braille in almost every walk of life. There are software developers, there are mathematicians, there are people practicing different arts, musicians, whatnot.

[inaudible], we have a reason to be proud that we are close to the day of January 4th, is most appropriately chosen as the World Braille Day thanks to the World Blind Union, thanks to the United Nations, and thanks to you all for listening to me. Before I keep this slot open for your questions, I would rather today to go with a slightly different format. And this is, I would love to hear the role that braille has played in your life, how braille has helped, but how you think, after learning some braille ... Braille Literacy 1 or 2, those who are doing that, how you think this braille is going to help you a lot. Instead of asking questions, you may want to share your experience. Okay? So that's how we would like to go through this, and I would like to keep the floor open. Once again, you can ask questions later, but first I would like to hear the experiences of people. Allen Kmiotek has already raised his hand, so I will start with him. Thank you all, everybody.

Elyse H: Okay, Allen, can you hear us?

Allen: Yes. Other than labeling all of the items around the house, the most important thing, because I do a lot of office work and I have file folders, quite a few of them. And since printer labels don't work well, I use the label maker to print labels that I insert on the back top of the tab, kind of upside down so I can read my files. Otherwise, it would take me forever to pull a file out, put it on the CCTV to read it. So I'm able to thumb through my files a lot faster. Over.

Vileen S: Thank you. And good thing ... You are only able to use CCTV if you have some vision. Braille helps you more than the CCTV, in this case. It's a lot quicker and a lot more efficient. Thank you, Allen, for sharing your experience. All right. And Elyse will now call the next name.

Elyse H: Okay. Terry, you're next in line.

Terry: Okay. I am 59 and I've read braille all my life, basically since I was six years old.

Vileen S: Wow.

Terry: I use braille for everything. I prefer braille over audio-type stuff. I mean, I read talking books, but as far as everything else, I just seem to comprehend things better by reading it in braille. So I use a braille display note taker for reading a lot of stuff, as well. And I use it on my microwave and just practically everything. And I feel like, for me, if I didn't have braille, I would be illiterate.

Vileen S: And that is very true. If you do not know braille, you may be educated. I've seen people using only audio and they do have a master's degree and all. So they are certainly well-educated, but they're illiterate because they do not know how to read or write. And therefore, braille is a medium of literacy and that is primarily important. Thank you, Terry, for sharing. And let's go to the next.

Elyse H: Allison, you are next in line.

Allison: Okay. I'm Allison. I am 34 years old. I have been totally blind since birth and I started reading braille when I was three years old. And I use a Perkins braille writer and sometimes a slate and stylus to label my TV dinners and the instructions for that. And I read a lot of braille books and magazines. And I basically ... it taught me how to spell and learn English grammar and I want the blind students in our school district to be literate because, if I didn't learn braille at a very young age ... and you're right, Vileen, I would be illiterate and so would the rest of us.

Vileen S: Thank you. Yeah. So far, she's able to read print. That's fine. I would like to say one more thing. There are two kinds of memory, auditory and tactile. And some people who are blind like me have auditory memory and some people have tactile. I'm for that. I have a good auditory memory. It means I do not enjoy listening to the books. I understand. I use it. It's not that I don't. I use audio system, but I'm more happy reading myself. I love to read ... I think I have a more tactile memory. Thank you.

Elyse H: Okay. Let's see. Katrina, you're next in line. Can you hear us?

Katrina: Yes. Can you hear me?

Elyse H: Yes. Go ahead.

Katrina: Okay. My experience has been ... I've told y'all before. I read print, I drove, I read braille often. Well when I was in an accident, I mostly forgot all of my braille and, not being able to see to read, I did feel illiterate. I felt like I was in another world. So now that I've been at Hadley, I feel like I've learned more through Vileen and through this course here, Embracing Braille, than I learned a long time ago. And I feel a little bit more confident. If I can just master the lessons, then I'll be doing great.

Vileen S: Okay. Very good. So you started embracing braille much late, which is fine. It's good to embrace braille any time and it is better late than never. [inaudible]

Elyse H: Great. Let's see. Jeff, I see a hand up. Can you hear us?

Jeff: Yes.

Elyse H: Okay.

Jeff: Happy New Year to both of you.

Vileen S: Happy New Year to you, too. Great.

Jeff: Thank you, Vileen. I also started late learning braille in life at age 52. So I'm in the process of rewiring my brain, I suppose. [crosstalk]

Vileen S: [crosstalk] rewire a brain, off and on.

Jeff: That's right. I think what you said is very important, that there is a tactile ... Of course, portions of the brain [inaudible] tactile learning and the audible learning are separate. So I'm now engaging the tactile aspect of my brain. So that's been a long process and frustrating, at times, but I am getting better. But also, I was prompted to learn braille ... I guess, my love for literature and just English grammar. And the previous callers, they were spot on. It's important to be literate. You're not going to be literate just listening to audio books. So, yeah. That's all. Over.

Vileen S: Okay. Good. Thank you for sharing. Okay, next person.

Elyse H: All right. Let's see. Rick, I see your hand is up. Can you hear us?

Rick: Yes, I can. I learned braille when I was eight and nine. And it took a while, but I used it in school for math and chemistry and literature and all that. As an adult, I use it for labeling and we have it on our washing machine and our microwave. Couldn't do without it. I agree, again, about being literate and learning to spell and punctuate and the meaning of indentations and margins and justification and blank lines and how they're used and how it makes it so much easier to look quickly over a series of pages to find something. And, yes. I'm taking that Everyday Reading in UEB as, Vileen, you would know.

Vileen S: Nice.

Rick: And this is my second course with you and they're both very good courses.

Vileen S: Thank you.

Rick: So, yeah. Three cheers for braille. Over.

Vileen S: [inaudible] Rick. Thank you for sharing and good talks. That just reminds me of something. Rick, you mentioned about spelling and punctuation. Okay, friends. I came to this country as a lawful immigrant, as you all know, in 1992. So I was looking for a job. Three master's in political science and sociology. I was pretty much optimistic I would get something, but getting a job is never easy for a blind person, and particularly when you are from a different country. I started subbing. Subbing means working as a substitute teacher and I happened to go to one school as a substitute teacher. And luckily, I met another blind gentleman who had a master's degree in history, and he was a full-time history teacher in that school. And that was great. He wrote me a note in braille. He gave me his phone number and all. He was so nice. And then he wrote, "God bless you," and he spelled bless, B-L-A-S-S. Why'd that happen, my friends? Because all that he learned, he learned by audio. He did not know braille much, or rather maybe he did not know how to spell. So I'm not giving anybody's name. I'm not hurting anyone's confidentiality, but this experience is important to share. I couldn't believe that a person with master's degree cannot spell the word bless, B-L-E-S-S. And he will say, B-L-A-S-S. So that's the importance of braille. If you learn braille, you learn how to correctly spell words and you learn how to use punctuation correctly. It is, as I said and everybody agrees, it is a medium of literacy and literacy should be part of our life. We can't be illiterate, at all. Thank you. Let's go to next.

Elyse H: All right. Annely, you're next in line.

Vileen S: Annely.

Annely: Can you hear me?

Vileen S: Yes, welcome.

Annely: Happy New Year to everyone.

Vileen S: Happy New Year.

Annely: And I'm not going to repeat everything that everyone else said because it's all true.

Vileen S: That's all we can do with this.

Annely: And I use the braille for all those areas. I am 66. People are telling their age, so I'll give mine, too. And I learned braille when I was eight or nine years old, as well. And I learned it just in time because, by the time I learned it all, I was needing to use it. So I didn't lose time in school. And I do want to say that it's great to read it because of the spelling and the punctuation. And I have been doing the spring into braille reading, which has gotten me reading more braille, but I have noticed there are words that I've come across and like, "Wow, that's how you spell it?" So the spelling aspect is very important because you don't get that in reading talking books. On the computer, using JAWS, yeah, you can spell out words, but not with the recorded books. And so reading braille is very important with the spelling aspect. Over.

Vileen S: Great. Thank you so much. Thank you for sharing. And, yeah, people have started sharing their age, although I did not ask, but that's good. It does help every participant to understand if somebody's saying that, "I learned braille at age three," or age eight or nine, "And I'm now so and so," 34, 69, 59, whatever. That helps listeners to understand how long you've been using braille. Again, it's not required, but if you share your age, you are most welcome. Next participant.

Elyse H: Okay. Donald, you're next in line.

Vileen S: Oh, Donald.

Donald: Yes. I want to just ...

Vileen S: [crosstalk]

Donald: All of the experiences I've had ... I learned braille when I was six. I am now 69 and I've used it all my life and in all of the ways that have been mentioned. But I just thought I'd add that I also use it because I majored in theology in college and I went to the seminary and got an [inaudible] that I learned how to read the Bible in the original languages and in Hebrew and in Greek. And luckily, by that time, they'd gotten the Greek New Testament in braille and they'd gotten the Hebrew Bible in braille. So I got them and so I can read the Bible in the original languages because people were farsighted enough to put them in braille.

Elyse H: All right. Wesley, you're next in line. Can you hear us?

Wesley: Yup, I sure can. I started braille when I was in third grade. I had an experience. I had still limited vision and what happened was I was out one day on my ATV and my eyesight went black. I couldn't see anything, and it frightened me. I thought I was losing all my vision. Thank god I didn't. My retina detached. They were able to salvage my vision I have. So I immediately had to learn braille because it freaked me out. I'm sitting out in the middle of nowhere on my four-wheeler and I can't see where I'm going to get home and it really frightened me. Thank god I was on my farm, on my property, but it was scary, and it was an experience and I'll never forget it. So I learned it. And the other thing I want to put a spin on is a lot of the school districts, they have this thing, they just want you to learn audio. So some people don’t want to teach, but I had to fight because they wanted to put me in special ed classes because of my vision. Said, "Well, that's where we're going to stick you because you're blind." And I fought, got my books in braille, and I was mainstreamed into regular classes and I excelled, and I did very well. I'm 44 right now.

Vileen S: Oh, okay. You didn't have to tell, but that's great. Thank you so much. Thank you for sharing and that reminds me of an article I read, which was a little stunning, to me. And I sometimes [inaudible], you know? Back in India, where I'm from, it meant every ... at least [inaudible] blind person knows braille. Where here, I come and I learn that there are people who do not know braille, although they are blind or visually impaired. And then I learned that many sighted teachers ... sorry, Elyse, it's not for you ... many sighted teachers discourage blind people to learn braille. That was shocking to me. And some blind consumers are trying hard to promote braille in all schools, primary school, whatever you call grammar schools. And that's good for them. But, yeah. That is, at least to me, it is frustrating that because it's a little hard and difficult, extra effort for some people, some teachers, braille, they just avoid, and they encourage blind students only to depend on audio. And as I said before, if you just listen to audio, you could be educated, you may have a PhD or master's, but you are not literate. I'm sorry about that. Thank you. Thank you for sharing, Wesley. All right. We'll go to next.

Elyse H: All right. Roderick, you're next in line.

Roderick: I only started learning braille two years ago. I bought book about learning braille. It's a children's book, Six Dots, I learned about the braille alphabet.

It's made a big difference in my life. I have a lot more confidence than I used to have. And I had to write down some phone numbers recently, had to remember them. And I used my slate and stylus and I still got those phone numbers. It's not a lot compared to what all other people have done, but to me it's a big thing and I can read a calendar. That's a big thing, too. I don't know what I would do without braille.

Vileen: Oh, great. Thank you, Roderick. You made a great point here. Braille not only makes you literate, but also gives you a lot of confidence and something that helps you to believe in yourself, something that helps you to instill more confidence in your mind that it has a value. And no doubt, braille has a great value in our life. Thank you. Next one.

Elyse H: Okay. I see two more hands. Let's see. Sassoon, can you hear us?

Sassoon: Yeah. I'm here. Can you hear me?

Elyse H: There you are. Yep. Go ahead.

Sassoon: Yeah. I'm at the age of 27 now and I lost my vision when I was 15, due to retinal detachment. So before that, I was a normal kid. I used print script and all. I learned those things and it was like I was a normal kid. And after that, when I lost my vision, it was a very hard thing to continue my education because, only two years, I did not study. I was doing all the treatment. And after that, suddenly, I wanted to continue my studies. So learning braille within that short period was very hard for me. So when I met a teacher, braille teacher here in Sri Lanka close to my place, she [inaudible] as I went and she introduced me the initial alphabet of the 26 letters in three classes. Then after that, she asked me to read ... She gave me a book in braille, and she asked me to read the book. Then I was totally fed up and I couldn't ... I do not know to keep my finger. I do not know to read the braille and it was totally a mess up for me. Then I thought, at that moment, it is a big thing to learn. I can't do that. And I stopped that. And after that, what I was, I learned the screen readers and I managed myself to use JAWS and I typed my notes and I continued my studies on that way. But after that, I got to the university and I completed my bachelor's degree now. And now, at this age, I felt [inaudible] I learned, but this part is that I should know braille. And this is always lacking in me. So I hear people read and they learn braille super-fast or they read very fast. So I think, myself, if people can read this super-fast, why can't I? Why this has always been a challenge for me? And I think I should break out this challenge. Then only I came to know about Hadley and how they teach braille and the step by step, the literacy, the labels and everything was very different for me, how they introduced braille and it was very successful for me. Now I have started learning braille and I got all the interest of learning braille now and I have improved a lot. So that sort of experience I have now and I'm at the contracted braille, Braille Literacy 4 stage now. Very recently, I joined Hadley and now have come to this stage because of my interest and my drive towards this braille. So, over.

Vileen S: Oh, thank you, Sassoon. So everybody, this is a good lesson. Sassoon had an opportunity to learn braille, step by step, but Hadley teaches in a very systematic way. She would've been a lot better using braille for her bachelor's degree but, as I said, it's better late than never. Good for you. One important point that you made here was ... You mentioned that you lost your sight at age 15. And you said, before that, you were a normal female. I would like to say, you are a normal female now, also. You know?

Sassoon: Yeah. It's really true. Yeah.

Vileen S: It's normal. I'm totally blind and I'm able to teach sighted people, blind people. I've taught thousands of people American history and American government in the sighted world, as long as I teach these courses at Hadley. And also, I conduct this group and it's all doable. You mentioned that people can read braille super-fast, yes. There are people who read braille at the speed of 300-400 words a minute.

Sassoon: Yeah. I listened to that interview, yeah. From that, I just started to learn braille from Hadley.

Vileen S: Yeah. So you were inspired with knowing that. And here, Embracing Braille group, we have had one demonstration how fast people can read braille. And I chose one of my students who had a real good speed in reading braille, Caitlin Dilamani and another, my co-worker, Lisa Salinger. Somewhere in July, we had that presentation. The purpose was inspire, encourage people that braille could be your buddy, I call it. Braille is your buddy. It can help you a lot. Thank you. Let's go to the next.

Elyse H: Okie dokie. I see Katrina. You have your hand up.

Katrina: Yes. I just wanted to say, before I started learning with Hadley, I had been told that I would be a special learner and I was very slow in most of everything that I learned, but no one had ever said something to me that Vileen said to me when I first started with him. He said, "If you believe in yourself, you won't be a slow learner. If you believe in yourself, you'll be able to do it." And I'm still making quite a few mistakes, but I feel like I'm getting better. And I'm just grateful to Hadley that I found a good instructor that knows how to teach it the way that I needed to learn it.

Vileen S: Katrina, you will be probably astonished to hear me say that it's good to make mistakes because, when you learn after your mistake, then you correct your mistake or somebody else does, you remember it better. So it's [inaudible]. I call the errors or mistakes your teacher. You learn from your teacher. You learn from your mistakes. Okay?

Katrina: Okay.

Vileen S: Next one.

Elyse H: Okay. Dorothy, you're next in line.

Vileen S: Oh, Dorothy, coming now. [inaudible]

Dorothy: Hello. I think the one thing that people have not mentioned is the hearing loss thing. I was recently tested and had a 20% hearing loss. So if you either lost your eyesight or you're losing it ... which I haven't been able to read print for about four years. Obviously, if you're losing your hearing, as well, you must learn braille. There's no choice. And about the making mistakes, I seem to be right there with everyone else that we all make them. And my instructor told me last month that making mistakes sometimes just keeps us humble because we do learn better with mistakes. We learn more for that which we have to dig out and work hard at than that that comes easy. Now, with my hearing loss, there's several sounds that I do not hear. And so like you were saying, Vileen, I can easily just not even realize what word is being said off of audio. And when you don't know what sounds are in the first syllable, you have no way of looking that word up. And so braille, of course, is absolutely necessary for me, as it is for many of us. And I'm grateful to have it and I also am happy to encourage others that are learning. I'm in pretty much the middle of Lit 4. And one of the things that's encouraged me so much and there's so many of you that have helped me, that I will say the giving back to the community, in other words, when you see a learner behind you that needs a little bit of help, they can reach out to you for encouragement or whatever. That's extremely helpful. The ones I don't understand are the ones that have learned it that never give a thing back in the way of braille. I'm sorry, I just don't understand that. Over.

Vileen S: Thank you, Dorothy. And I appreciate you raise a tremendously important point. I normally say braille is a salvation, but it is more true for the people who have hearing loss. Yes. With the vision loss and hearing loss, whether minor or major, braille is the one that really, really helps a lot. It's your salvation. That's how I put it. Thank you for bringing that point. Next one. We can take probably one or two participants now. We are only three minutes away, two minutes away from completion.

Elyse H: Well, that sounds good. Okay. Allen K, your hand is up.

Allen: I just wanted to mention it's obviously good to make mistakes and learn from your mistakes, but not to get discouraged or thoughts of quitting or being too hard on yourself for these mistakes because that is part of the process. So even though the mistakes come out, you need to push along and keep on going and the mistakes will get fewer as you learn more and practice more. Over.

Vileen S: Yes. [inaudible], too. Thank you so much, Allen. Don't be too hard on you. I love that. Don't be too hard. Make mistakes, just see better how you can correct yourself instead of blaming yourself and being hard on you. I love this point. Thank you so much. Appreciate it. Okay. So it looks… I think everybody who wanted to has shared their views and experiences, for which I thank you so much. And we're, at the end of this session. So I would like to wrap up, but not before thanking you all for joining today. Once again, I wish you very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2020. I also wish you happy World Braille Day. And I'll see you all a week from today, next Thursday. Bye now.