Braille Drawings

Dennis Sellers led a demonstration on creating a braille drawing of a sailboat. Keep a braille sheet and slate and stylus, or your braille writer, handy while you listen.

August 15, 2019

Don't miss the next episode

Audio Transcript



Hadley

Embracing Braille – Braille Drawing

Presented by Vileen Shah

August 15, 2019

Vileen S: Today's topic is braille drawing. Yes, you can draw pictures. I'm hoping that our guest speaker should join us real soon. Dennis Sellers is here. I can then introduce him to you all. So Dennis, if you could speak.

Dennis Sellers: Yes, this is Dennis Sellers. I am here.

Vileen S: Hello Dennis. Good. That's good. Terrific. Welcome. So lucky we are all participant here we have our guest speakers, Dennis Sellers, and Dennis did his braille literacy course with me long time back. Maybe 10 years ago. No, no. I'm just kidding. Quite a few years ago. Dennis, how long it has been?

Dennis Sellers: Well, I don't know really.

Vileen S: You don't know either. That's fine.

Dennis Sellers: It's not quite 10 years but it feels like 10 years, Vileen. Over.

Vileen S: Almost like. Feels like. Yes, yes, yes. And that's not an issue. The issue is that you know braille so well, and Dennis is quite innovative. He comes up with lots of new ideas. He and Darrin Cheney plays chess via computer, right?

Dennis Sellers: We haven't done for a while, but we did used to do that, yes.

Vileen S: Yeah, you used to play chess via computer. That's something amazing for me. I could barely play chess. I am not able to give checks, and if you cannot, you cannot really win a game, but anyway. There's the chess terminology.

Dennis Sellers: It is kind of hard if you can't do that, yes.

Vileen S: Yeah, okay. Maybe you can start again. More than that, Dennis himself will tell about himself and then walk us through drawing of braille pictures. Over to Dennis Sellers.

Dennis Sellers: Yes, good morning everyone. This is Dennis Sellers. I do live in northern California, and as Vileen said he was my braille instructor many years ago, and at the time I finished the braille course with Vileen we had started office hours with Susan Fisher, and Susan Fisher started her office hours many years ago now and she was an instructor, a braille instructor at Hadley, and she has recently retired. One of the things that we did in her braille meetings, we talked about braille tips and techniques and things like that but one of the things that we did that was very interesting was that we started drawing pictures with braille. And over the years we were in Susan's office hours meeting on Tuesday afternoon, did almost 25 pictures with braille. Some of them were smaller and some of them were large. And I've gone ahead and I've created a braille picture, and we're going to do that today. Vileen mentioned that he asked people to bring their slate and stylus or their brailler and have it ready for this meeting. I want to tell you a little bit about the picture itself first before we get started.

Although I live in California now, I grew up in Massachusetts south of Boston right on the water, and my family had a little sailboat. I remember those days fondly, and I created a picture of a sailboat that we're going to make with braille. I don't know how many of you are familiar with sailboats. This is a sailboat with triangular sails and it's actually a little sloop, and it actually looks a lot like the sailboat we used to have. This picture is eight braille cells across and eight braille cells down, so it's not a very large picture but I think if this is the first time you've made a picture with braille it'll be fun for you.

What I'm going to do, and I would ask you to not interrupt when I'm going to read the braille that I want you to enter in order to make the picture. It has eight lines. I'm going to read all eight lines. I'm going to read them very, very slowly and I'm going to repeat each line just in case you don't hear something the first time around, and since this session is being recorded, if you do get all confused or whatever you can always go back to this session and listen to the braille again.

So what I'm going to do, like I said, is to read the lines and if you're using a braille slate and stylus that allows you to punch in four lines, I'm going to pause halfway through after I do the first four lines and give you a chance to change the paper in the braille slate and stylus so you can continue to do the other four lines. So I think what I'll do is just get started.

This is a side view of a sailboat. You might not be able to see it as we're working on drawing it, but I think once you finish, you'll be able to see a little sailboat. It's a side view of a little sailboat. Triangular sails, a little hull, a little cabin on it and so forth. What I'm going to do is I'm going to start with Line 1. As I mentioned it's eight cells across and eight cells down, so I'm going to start with Line 1. There are two kinds of things that you're going to do as you're punching in on your slate and stylus or your braille writer. You're either going to make spaces, or you're going to make a cell with braille dots in it, and I'm going to tell you when to space, how many spaces, and then I'm going to tell you what dots to go in each individual cell in the line. Those are the two things that you're going to be doing.

I'm starting on Line 1, and again as I said this picture is eight cells across and eight cells down, and so I'm going to start with Line 1 and the first thing I want you to do is to leave four spaces, so space over four spaces.

Vileen S: Okay.

Dennis Sellers: And when you're done with that, I want you to enter one cell containing the braille dots 3, 4, 5, and 6. Once again, braille dots 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Vileen S: Yes. I am also doing, Dennis.

Dennis Sellers: Okay, and that's the end of Line 1. I'm going to repeat Line 1 again. For Line 1, I want you to space four spaces, and once you've done that, I want you to make one cell containing the braille dots 3, 4, 5, and 6, and that's the end of Line 1.

I'm going to start Line 2 now. For Line 2, I want you to make three spaces. Three spaces. Then I want you to enter once cell containing the braille dot 5. Braille dot 5. One cell. And then I want you to make one cell with braille dots 4, 5, and 6. One cell, 4, 5, and 6. Then I want to end Line 2 with one cell that contains only braille dot number 2. Dot number 2 ending Line 2. I'm going to repeat Line 2. Start with three spaces. Then I want you to enter one cell containing braille dot 5. One cell, braille dot 5. Then I want you to enter one cell, braille dots 4, 5, and 6. Then finish Line 2 with braille dot 2. I'm going to repeat Line 2. Start with three spaces. Then make a single cell with braille dot 5. Then one cell with dots 4, 5, and 6. Then finish Line 2 with one cell containing only braille dot 2.

I'm going to start Line 3. Start Line 3 with two spaces. Two spaces. After that make a cell with braille dot 6. One cell with braille dot 6. Then make a cell with the letter A. The letter A is braille dot number 1. One cell, braille dot number 1. Then make a cell with dots 4, 5, and 6. One cell, dots 4, 5, and 6. Then finish Line 3 with one cell, single dot 5. One cell, dot 5 and that finishes Line 3. I'm going to repeat Line 3. Start Line 3 with two spaces. Then make one cell containing dot 6. One cell, dot 6. Next thing I want you to make one cell with the letter A. A Albert. The letter A is dot 1. Then I want you to make a cell with dots 4, 5, and 6. One cell, dots 4, 5, and 6. Then end Line 3 with a single cell, dot 5. That's the end of Line 3.

I'm going to go to Line 4. Begin Line 4 with two spaces. Two spaces. Then make a single cell with dot 2. One cell, dot 2. Follow that with one space. Then make a single cell with dots 4, 5, and 6. Follow that with one space, and finish Line 4 with a cell of dot 2. That's the end of Line 4. I'm going to repeat Line 4. Start Line 4 with two spaces. Follow that with a single cell, dot 2. Then make one space. Follow that with a single cell of dots 4, 5, and 6. Then make one space, and finish Line 4 with a single cell, dot 2. Okay, I'm going to pause here for a few seconds and let everyone who's using a slate and stylus shift the paper in the slate, then we'll continue with Line 5.

Okay, I'm going to continue with Line 5. First thing I want you to do in Line 5 is to make one space. Then make a cell with dots 3 and 4. Then make three spaces. Three spaces. Follow that with a single cell, dots 4, 5, and 6. Then make one space, and finish Line 5 with a single cell, dot 5. I'll repeat Line 5 again. Start out with one space. Then make a cell with dots 3 and 4. Follow that with three spaces. Three spaces. Then a single cell with dots 4, 5, and 6. Follow that with one space. One space. Finish Line 5 with a single cell, dot 5.

I'm going to go to Line 6. Start Line 6 with a single cell, dot 5. Then I want you to make three cells, three cells containing dots 2 and 5. Three cells of dots 2 and 5. Then I want you to follow that with one cell containing the letter W Walter. Letter W is dots 2, 4, 5, and 6. One W. Then I want you to make two cells of dots 2 and 5. Two cells with dots 2 and 5. Finish Line 6 with one cell of dot 2. I'm going to repeat Line 6. Start Line 6 with one cell of dot 5. Follow that with three cells consisting of dots 2 and 5. Three cells of dots 2 and 5. Then make one cell containing the letter W Walter. The letter W is dots 2, 4, 5, and 6. One W. Then make two cells containing dots 2 and 5. Two cells containing dots 2 and 5. End Line 6 with a single cell of dot 2.

Then we're going on to Line 7. Start Line 7 with a single cell, dots 2, 3, and 5. One cell, dots 2, 3, and 5. Follow that with one cell of dots 2 and 5. Follow that with a single cell containing the letter J James. Letter J is dots 2, 4, and 5. One cell, letter J, 2, 4, and 5. Follow that with two cells containing the letter C Charles. The letter C is dots 1 and 4. Two cells with the letter C, dots 1 and 4. Follow that with one cell containing the letter E. The letter E is dots 1 and 5. One cell, letter E Edward, dots 1 and 5. Follow that with a single cell, dots 2 and 5. One cell, dots 2 and 5, and finish Line 7 with a single cell, dots 2, 3, and 5. That finishes Line 7.

I'm going to repeat Line 7. Line 7 starts with a single cell, dots 2, 3, and 5. Follow that with a single cell of dots 2 and 5. Then make a single cell with the letter J James. The letter J is dots 2, 4, and 5. One cell, letter J James, 2, 4, and 5. Then make two cells with the letter C Charles. The letter C is dots 1 and 4. Two cells, letter C, 1 and 4. Follow that with one cell containing the letter E Edward. Letter E is dots 1 and 5. One cell, E Edward, dots 1 and 5. Follow that with one cell, dots 2 and 5. And finish Line 7 with one cell of dots 2, 3, and 5. That ends Line 7, and I'm going on to the last line, Line 8.

Line 8 starts with one cell, letter H Harold. Letter H is dots 1, 2, and 5. One cell, letter H, 1, 2, and 5. Follow that with two cells, the letter C Charles. Letter C is dots 1 and 4. So two cells, letter C Charles, 1 and 4. Follow that with one cell, dots 1, 5, and 6. One cell, dots 1, 5, and 6. Follow that with one cell, dots 3, 5, and 6. One cell, 3, 5, and 6. Follow that with one cell, dots 2 and 5. Finish up Line 8 with one cell containing the letter C Charles. The letter C is dots 1 and 4. So finishing Line 8 with one cell, dots 1 and 4, the letter C Charles.

I'm going to read the last line, Line 8, one more time. Start Line 8 with one cell, the letter H Harold. Letter H is dots 1, 2, and 5. One cell, letter H, 1, 2, and 5. Then make two cells, two cells of the letter C Charles. The letter C is dots 1 and 4. So two cells, letter C, 1 and 4. Follow that with one cell of dots 1, 5, and 6. One cell, dots 1, 5, and 6. Follow that with dots 3, 5, and 6. One cell, dots 3, 5, and 6. Then make one cell with dots 2 and 5. One cell, 2 and 5. Finish up Line 8 with one cell, letter C Charles. Letter C is dots 1 and 4. Line 8 finishes with letter C, dots 1 and 4. One of those.

And when you're done with that you should have a little picture of a sailboat. I made this picture myself. I created the whole thing myself, so if there's anything wrong with it I'm to blame, but like I say I used to have a sailboat and I enjoyed sailing, so it was fun making this picture and I hope it was fun for you hearing all about it. So that's the end of that. Let me know. Now is a good time. If you have any questions or whatever then go ahead and ask. Thank you.

Vileen S: We'll keep it open for questions; however I think this picture would make sense for those who have seen a sailboat. I mean, you may have used it but if you have not seen it totally then you may ... Well, imagine in mind how a sailboat looks like.

Dennis Sellers: Yeah, that's it.

Vileen S: And Dennis, good job by presenting it in braille how it looks. So thank you so much Dennis, and we'll now keep it open. Okay, and let's take the questions.

Elyse H: Kelly. I'll go ahead unmute you.

Kelly: Okay. Thanks, Dennis, for presenting that picture there for us. I wrote it all out on my Perkins Brailler and looks pretty good from what I can tell. I don't know much about sailboats but as I said it was really good. One thing I was wondering about. A few years ago when I was in school I had a book, and I forget the title of it but I think it was in braille. It was about doing pictures on the Perkins Brailler, or I guess probably the slate, but anyway writing those in braille. I'm just wondering if you or anyone else knows if there are still books on that subject in braille.

Dennis Sellers: I don't know if it's that particular book but Hadley did have a book. I don't know whether it's still available, but it is a book about braille drawings. It's called So What About Drawing. So What About Drawing. I got a copy of it from Susan a while ago. They may still have it. I don't know whether it's still around, but it had some 25 pictures of various objects in braille, and I believe that's the source for a lot of the braille pictures that Susan Fisher read to us over the years. So you might check with Hadley and see if that's still available. So What About Drawing.

Linn: Vileen?

Vileen S: Hadley has been undergoing lots of changes, so we do not now but... I'll check with someone who works at Hadley and find out if that book is still available.

Linn: Vileen?

Vileen S: Yeah.

Linn: It's Linn.

Vileen S: Yes, Linn.

Linn: This is an interesting story. I taught braille to potential teachers at a university, and then a little bit after I started working at Hadley, Susan took over. And so she got those braille drawings from my teaching teachers’ class. It was originally done by what was then called the Guild for the Blind and is now called Second Sense out of Chicago, and they had print and braille copies of it. Now I will tell you they weren't perfect. There were errors here and there in them, but if you do them then you figure that out. So I don't know if Hadley made chunks of it available. The best one we could contact would be Susan. She resigned but I'm sure she would be very glad to let us know. Then National Braille Press did one as well. I don't remember what theirs is, but I know that one is still available. So both of those places are good places to try to see what you can find.

Vileen S: Great. Yes.

Kelly: Okay. Thank you.

Vileen S: The wealth of experience that Linn has. Many of the teachers at Hadley were taught by Linn Sorge who is with us now, so we are so blessed and privileged to have you, Linn. Good, good information. Okay.

Linn: When we did this in teaching potential teachers, when I started doing it at Northern, we did exactly what you're saying and that's probably why Susan, we would put all of our students under blindfolds and then they would braille, just like Dennis read to you, and then we would go around the class and they would tell us what they thought they were, and then we took off their blindfolds and it was a very interesting experience for them to realize how hands maybe see and visualize things differently. So I think that's where the mystery drawing idea came from. Over.

Vileen S: So Linn, do you also blindfold the blind students who are going to be teachers?

Linn: No. No.

Vileen S: No. I know. Okay.

Linn: Although you know, I was in a masters class in cooking, and the first couple of times they blindfolded two of us that were, and we said we looked pretty stupid since we couldn't even see light. So the teacher did admit she was incorrect in that idea, and after that we didn't have to wear the blindfolds. So no.

Vileen S: It looks most of the students who are going to be potential teachers for blind and visually impaired people were sighted. Right?

Linn: Yes.

Vileen S: Yes. Okay, great. All right let's move on to next question, or any further contribution. Okay. Did you enjoy the drawing?

Sunshine: Yes. Yes. It does feel like a sailboat.

Vileen S: Wow. Very good. Okay.

Dennis Sellers: It probably doesn't feel like... My sailboat was tipped over a lot of the time.

Vileen S: Next question.

Elyse H: Jasmine. Your hand is up now. You're the next in line.

Jasmine: Okay. Another place that you could get the braille drawings is from Paths to Literacy, and I've actually researched some drawings and they have some really cools ones. They have a Darth Vader one. They have a treasure chest. They have a clover for St. Patrick's Day. They have Santa Claus. I think a bell too. An angel. Then for Valentine's Day they have a heart and for spring they have flowers, so they have different pictures for every holiday, and I think that's really cool and you can challenge yourself because there's more than ... Some of them go to like, 30 lines or 20 lines of braille. Over.

Dennis Sellers: Yes, that's true. Some of the pictures are large. They're 25 and 30 lines and they take quite a while to make. But it's still kind of fun. Over.

Linn: This is Linn, and usually the pictures go no longer than 25 lines because that's the typical number of lines you can get on a page with paper that's 11 inches tall. They do go as far as 40 if you're using a braille writer. Some of them will go 40 across, but they usually sit on one braille page which means 25 lines or less.

Vileen S: 25 is the standard length of braille feet, yes.

Linn: And guys, if you need to do it again, you get practice.

Elyse H: That's right.

Linn: I'm not afraid of practice.

Vileen S: Yes. Practice makes people perfect.

Linn: Yeah. Practice makes good sailboats.

Vileen S: The old saying is practice makes man perfect.

Elyse H: Here's somebody's hand up. What's your name, please?

Dennis: This is Dennis, and I would like to thank Dennis to come forward and help me do this sailboat. I was thinking there. I'm feeling the sailboat right now. On the left side of the mat of the, yeah, maybe I could put a name on my sail, right? What do you think about that? I could put three letters in there and put a name on there, right?

Vileen S: Oh that's a great question. Dennis Sellers, what do you think?

Dennis Sellers: Yes, and in fact a lot of sailboats have numbers on their sails so if they're in a race you can tell which one is which, and so yeah that would probably make a nice little addition.

Dennis: That's right. I don't want to put a number. I want to put a name on there.

Vileen S: Yeah, put a name. That will establish your ownership of the sailboat. Nobody else can be-

Dennis: That's right.

Dennis Sellers: I kind of favor D-E-N myself, and you might too. Over.

Dennis: Thank you, Dennis.

Elyse H: Thank you for joining us. Let's see. Cinnamon, your hand is up. I will go ahead and unmute you.

Cinnamon: You said you're not sailing anymore. Do you ever get on a boat now?

Dennis Sellers: No. No. Except for the occasional canoe or a ferryboat or things. No, I haven't done any sailing for a long... It's kind of hard to sail if all you can see is 10 feet in front of you, so it's a little difficult lately and I don't actually live on the water the way I used to. Over.

Cinnamon: But you've been on a canoe or some other type of boat?

Dennis Sellers: Oh yes. In fact my wife and I are going up to Camp [inaudible] on Lake Tahoe next weekend. They have all kinds of canoes and things like that up there and usually they talk me into paddling a canoe someplace or rafting or one of those kind of things. As long as somebody else is steering I'm okay. I'm okay with paddling. Over.

Cinnamon: Nice. Thank you.

Linn: Dennis, this is Linn. You said you were in Massachusetts for a while. Did you ever go out and hear or watch the whales in that area?

Dennis Sellers: I was born in Massachusetts. When I was born, whales were new things, so they weren't quite as popular as they are now. Over. But no, to answer your question I've never done any whale watching. I went out on a boat that we were supposed to be whale watching one time, but we didn't ever see any whales. We probably scared them all away. Over.

Vileen S: Okay, good. Next question.

Elyse H: Our next person in line is Jasmine. I'll unmute you. Go ahead.

Jasmine: Okay, so one other thing you could do with the pictures is write a story about it. I just recently wrote a story about my boat. Over.

Elyse H: A great idea to incorporate some writing into your design.

Vileen S: Yes it is.

Elyse H: Great.

Vileen S: Anybody has a question, please speak up. Please raise your hand. I will take one more question. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm so happy that we had something different, something new, something unusual done today, and that is braille drawing. I thank you so much Dennis Sellers for giving your precious time and enlightening my participants with a pretty innovative idea how to draw a sailboat. I only know how to sail in a boat. I do not know how to draw, but I learned it now. Thank you so much, and I thank everybody for making yourself available and participating in this group activity.

Next session will be devoted to braille reading proficiency. What are the opportunities and what are the limitations? So do not miss that session, particularly those who really want to be proficient in braille reading. That is a good chance to learn something new. With that I would like to declare that today's session is over. I would like to see you all next Thursday. Until then, I wish you a good week ahead and good weekend. Take care. Bye now.