How Braille Can Change Your Life

Hadley Learner Allen Kmiotek presented this week on his life-changing experiences while learning braille and beyond.

August 1, 2019

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Audio Transcript


Embracing Braille – How Braille Can Change Your Life

Presented by Vileen Shah

August 1, 2019

Vileen S.: Today's speaker is our own Allen Kmiotek. Allen has had long experience in learning an using braille. Allen had been my student as well. He had been a great student. Allen is going to share with you life-changing experiences by learning braille. And then he will also talk what after learning braille, what comes after that?

So it's both, life-changing experiences while learning braille and beyond. Before saying much about today's topic and the speaker, I will let the speaker himself tell more about himself, and also talk to you about his experiences with learning braille. By the way, let Elyse say hi to you all. Elyse is our cohost.

Elyse H.: Good morning everyone. This is Elyse. Again, welcome everyone, and happy to be here, and interested to hear our presenter.

Vileen S.: OK, over to Allen.

Allen Kmiotek: Hi everybody, my name is Allen Kmiotek. I started learning braille back in 2007. The way I started realizing I needed braille is back in December 2006, I had a severe headache, went to the hospital. The last thing I remember was hitting the floor in the emergency room entrance. Three and a half weeks later I woke up to realize that I had lost a lot of my vision in the right eye, and I had some in the left. I could only see black and white.

It was like looking through a black sheer curtain in a dimly lit smoky room. It was difficult, I had lost 60 pounds, the ability to walk. I could talk out of the left side of my mouth. It was a big change in everything. I had major life-threatening illnesses; I had a 1% survival rate. In February 2006 I went to rehab facility for 30 days. They were trying to teach me certain things, and how to walk, and how to use my hands again, because I had bad neuropathy in the hands, in the feet. It was difficult basically just even sitting up.

When I was in there, they said that I would never leave, but I did in 30 days. The vision that I had, I went to an optometrist, and they took pictures of my eyes. In your optic nerve, which is what I had the damage of, your op nerve should be either red or salmon color. Mine was chalky white. That's why I only see in dots, limited colors, and just limited field of vision, and a big black spot in the central vision field.

I had a hard time seeing a lot of things. So, in that period of time, from when I got out of rehab, then I went to the Lighthouse Center Florida, here in Orlando. They were teaching me a lot of different items. I really wasn't enthused with going there, because I didn't think I was going to have any problems, because they told me after six months whatever vision I had that would be it. I was more optimistic and thought that my vision would come back.

During the training at Lighthouse, they went over multiple things. One of the things they showed me about was braille by that is given by Hadley. They had a braille writer there, and we were trying to write our names. That was my first introduction to braille and learning about Hadley. Still, I didn't think I was going to need braille, because I thought my sight would come back. One of the most important things about learning independent living is to realize that you have to do things differently, in reading, in dressing, and doing things around the house.

Rehab, they tried to teach me how to put toothpaste on a brush. They said, hold the toothbrush, your finger next to the brush. Put the paste on your fingers, swipe the brush, and then you should be fine. Well, no, that didn't happen. I had paste everywhere, everywhere but the brush, the sink, my face, my hands, you name it. When I got to Lighthouse, I told them this story and they said, "Skip the middleman, just go right to the source. Stick the toothpaste in your mouth, squirt paste on the brush."

After that I was more open to being able to learn more stuff. Before I had got there too, they had set me an instructor with a white cane. The white cane became very helpful, because I had some vision, but I kept looking to the ground, and was afraid of tripping over things. It helped me a lot in getting around and not tripping over curbs or steps, or the blocks that are in the parking lot that you can trip over when you get out of the vehicle.

The white cane is really an important aspect of your whole environment. It protects you, it also teaches people that you may be not able to see them, and to be able to watch out for you. Well, as time went on I said, "Well, I probably should try and see about learning Braille Lit 1.” Braille Lit 1 basically teaches you how to scan across the page of the braille line, as well as learning three letters, C, G and L. I always thought that was kind of strange, why don't you start with A, B, C?

Well, it made more sense as I went along is that C, G, L are pretty easy to identify and to feel the different letters. As I went through Braille Lit 1, I realized that okay, well, this is fine, but I still haven't realized that I wanted to learn more braille, because I still figured my sight was going to come back. So I took a break, and I took a French course, which is basic conversational French with Debbie Good. She also teaches Spanish.

I took that course as a break. By the time I was getting close to the end of that I figured, "Well, my vision is not changing, so I'm going to have to get into Braille Lit 2, and learn more about the braille code." Sharon Howerton is who I had as an instructor for both Braille Lit 1 and 2. When I got into Braille Lit 2, that's when I got my label maker. That made a big change. I was able to label my cans of food, the boxes, appliances, basically anything to help you identify what you wanted to read, and figure out what it is, or push a button, or on your microwave, et cetera.

It really helped an awful lot. The label maker sometimes can be a little difficult, because there is the alphabet on there, the A through Z, but on the other half of it, there are other symbols. Those of you that are not to that point, or at that point, and haven't gotten to Braille Lit 3 and 4, that's what's on the other side is symbols that you learn in Braille Lit 3 and 4, punctuations and contractions and stuff which you will learn in Braille Lit 4.

When I finally got through to mastering that label maker, I got more excited as I was going through the courses, because it was opening up a whole new world to me. When I finally got into Braille Lit 3, they sent me a box, and inside there was a slate and stylus, which I wasn't really too familiar. The first two lessons it teaches you how to read, how to write with a braille writer, and a slate and stylus. I never had a braille writer, even through Braille Lit 4, I only had my slate and stylus.

So those of you that aren't sure if you need a braille writer to do these courses, you don't. It's a little bit harder. It takes a little bit more time, but it's possible. What I found the most about doing it with just a slate and stylus is you learn the formation of symbols, the numbers, the first row, the second row, the dot formations, and the dot numbers. The dot numbers are so important to learn, because whether you are reading braille from right to left, or writing braille from right to left, it's still the same dot numbers. It's just you start on a different side of the braille cell when you are doing those functions. So it really helps in the future.

Once I got past the Braille Lit 3, which basically teaches you your more letters, punctuation, numbers, things like that. I'm sorry, to back up a little bit on Braille Lit 2, you are basically learning letters, additional letters of the alphabet, you are also learning combinations of letters and words. It's a little bit difficult to do the words, because you are not in a sentence format, you are just learning a word. Sometimes when you are in a sentence format it's a little bit easier to try to identify the words.

I finally got into Braille Lit 4, and at that point I got into lesson 10, I hadn't known about the braille chats that were going on. I heard about them, but I really didn't think I needed them. I got into the office hours, one with Sharon Howerton and Susan Fisher. Sharon taught Braille Lit 1 and 2, Susan was teaching Braille Lit 3 and 4. In those braille chats I learned a lot more and became more confident in what I was learning.

It helped my confidence, plus it gave me a lot of tips to overcome my challenges, and simpler ways to do things. One of the things I was having problems with the slate and stylus is that I didn't realize you could open the slate all the way open. So I only opened it up so that the first two pins of the slate was visible. I kept sliding the paper in and closing it up. I couldn't keep the paper aligned very well. Not until I got into the braille chat, someone told me, "Well, there is four pins." I didn't realize that. So the braille chats really do help with problems that you may not know you have and being able to correct them easily. So I started with probably about 2010 in these chats, and have been going on ever since, and try to offer any of my expertise, and what I've learned, and my mistakes, and how to overcome those things. That's one of the things that's important too is to remember this is all a learning challenge and abilities to overcome those challenges and be more confident in what you can accomplish.

While I was taking Braille Lit 4, I decided, well, I'm going to try and take the Abacus course with Susan Fisher, it helps you to learn addition, multiplication, subtraction, division, all that. You get a braille abacus, it's just a small one, it's about the size of an iPhone, and it has the beads on it.

One of the things that I also found out with learning those functions is you can use the abacus to help you in other functions. Writing down a telephone number, quickly, you can just move the beads to identify the numbers or the telephone number. In some cases it's like Judith Holley, she likes to knit, and she likes to use an abacus to keep track of her knitting when she's doing her whatever she's making. So there is a lot of different functions to use, other than using it for math.

From there when I was doing Braille Lit 4, when I first started, I realized that I needed to make notes, so I started. Even though I didn't know the braille code, I did everything out in uncontracted braille until I learned the particular contractions that I was coming across. I got an index card box, the size of a three by five card box. Got the numbers one through 31, and index card separators. And I brailled the tabs upside down. The tab zip zap, and on the back I brailled it upside down, number one, two, three, and four. So that when you are thumbing through with your index figure, when you curl over the index tab, you can feel the number as you are going through the numbers.

That worked out as well, but I decided to do it for file folders. When you are going through the file, instead of trying to pull the file out and read that way, it's easier just to curl your finger around to the back side of the tab.

One thing I wanted to mention, if you are doing Braille Lit 4, it might be a good idea not to try take another difficult course. Abacus and Braille Lit 4 are very difficult, and probably require a lot more concentration, because it was tough getting through those two courses, but it was well worth the effort. Then after that is when I took the Spanish course. Again with Debbie Good. Not so much so that I can speak, but so that I can understand it a little bit better. From there, I had gotten a call in 2013 in the spring. Someone was calling me to give me some good or great news.

Well, I only got the message. I called back, I wasn't sure what they were calling about. It was basically to let me know that I had been nominated and selected as braille student of the year for 2013. I was excited about that, and also nervous because what they said they would do is they'd fly me and someone else with me to Hadley Central in Winnetka, Illinois to see the facility, and join a luncheon during the day which I would need to speak, as well as the dinner at night and speak there.

That was the part that I had the most trouble with was speaking in front of a crowd of people. But I managed to get through that, it was great. The place is terrific. If you ever get a chance to get to Chicago, try to make an appointment to try and see the place. They have recently refurbished the place to help a little bit more for visually impaired people to get around, and it'd be well worth the trip. I mean, you might be able to get to meet one of your instructors from there.

I learned, experienced, by taking the course for experienced braille reading. Now it's called Everyday Reading in UEB. I had learned Braille Lit 3 and 4 in the EBAE course format, which is English Braille American Edition. America was the last country to adopt the new code coming out, which was UEB, which is Unified English Braille. I wanted to take the course, because when I first started learning braille, I wanted to learn how to read a menu. If you've ever been to a restaurant and have anybody try and read menus to you, it's difficult, because you really can't do it on your own. You have to listen to what they have to say and everything else.

You could scan your cell and try and read. Well, I didn't realize that it was going to take quite a long time to be able to get to that point where I could read a menu. I still request a menu, it gives me practice when I'm going to the restaurant to practice my braille as I'm trying to read the menu. Not all restaurants have them, but the ones that do, it makes a big difference. They realize that we need them. So if you can get the chance to ask for braille menu, please do so, because that really emphasizes the need for us to be able to have more independence to be able to do that.

After that course, I then took Introduction to UEB, which after 2016 when the UEB code was adopted in the United States, we were the last of 10 English speaking countries that were using the new code. Finally, we are now in line with the rest of those countries. Some of the countries are different. England, I still don't think they use the capital sign. But for the most part, we all use the same code. Now, finally after going through that course, which had in there like a section, a lesson on how to read a menu. That really helped out.

It also had a section, how to make a check register, or how to read an electric bill, water bill and many other formats. It's 15 lessons in the course, but you take the first eight are mandatory, and the last seven, you can pick four of those that you would like to do. You can do them all if you like, because there is a lot of really good information in those lessons. When I finally completed that, and finally got through all of those courses, and managed to get through everything, then what? Well, it's important after you are finished with your lessons, you can still can take more courses. Right now, basically only the braille courses are available. There is most of them being phased out.

So, the important thing is to continue to read and write your braille, because your if you put it away, and you don't use it every day, even you start to lose it. It's important so that you can increase your speed, and read books in the library, and to get more adapted to the braille, and the braille code itself. Just remember, it's important to be patient with yourself, have a goal, make sure that you are confident, and put in the effort, because if all those things don't come to play, it's not going to be easy.

It is possible. I mean, Clarice Cocco, she became braille student of the year at age 92. You can learn at any age. She also came to the braille chat around lesson 10, the way I did, and wasn't sure she can continue. She decided to continue on with our help to get her through those courses, and she became more confident, and is now happy that she has completed these courses, and it has improved her life by learning braille. With that, I'm going to hand it back over to Vileen, and it was great talking to you, and thank you.

Vileen S.: Thank you so much Allen, great talk, great sharing. I'm very certain those who are beginner learners of braille here, and those who have already learned braille, or in the process of learning, somewhere in the middle, very brilliant, your sharing is going to help each and every level, everybody. Thank you so much.

Elyse H.: First on the list is Cinnamon. Go ahead.

Cinnamon: Hi everyone, Allen I want to say thank you. That was amazing, everything you said today. It gave me a lot of inspiration, because I struggle a lot with the braille, especially right now. Every week when you give suggestions it's so helpful to me. I do have a question for you. I too have neuropathy and I think I've asked you questions before about that.

I do have a question for you, one thing I'm really struggling with, and I'm hoping maybe you've got an idea is, I'm really struggling with reading lately on two pages. I'm on assignment seven of the braille four. I'm just really struggling with two-sided braille-

Vileen S.: Hold on, when you say braille course, you mean Braille Literacy 4?

Cinnamon: Yes. Braille four, the UEB four lesson seven.

Vileen S.: Yeah, definitely.

Cinnamon: When I'm reading where it's brailled on two sides. I got a problem where the dents go down, and I'm doing a real light touch, but every once in a while, it seems like I'm just struggling. The dots from the other side seem to be throwing me off for some reason, even with that light touch.

Vileen S.: Interesting question. Let's see what Allen has to say.

Allen Kmiotek: Well, interpoint can be a challenge. It really wasn't much of a challenge for me. But for some people who read braille by sight, it's definitely a challenge, because they can see the dots. The thing is, if you've got neuropathy in your hands... I no longer have it in my right hand. One of the things Vileen told me to do a long time ago, was take a page of braille, not something that you are going to be reading, but just run your finger over in circles up and down, back and forth, for about a minute.

It helps to stimulate your fingertip. Get some blood flowing in the fingertip and makes it more sensitive so that when you do go back over you might be able to feel the dots that are on your side of the page to come out better. I noticed that if you get in between the words, and there might be a dot there, you might be feeling that dot as well. You just have to get used to the height of the dot on your side of page, as opposed to the dot on the other side of the page. That just comes in time with practice. That will eventually subside as you get further into your braille lessons. Over.

Vileen S.: Thank you Allen for the analysis.

Cinnamon: Thank you.

Vileen S.: I don't even remember what I told you, but now that you reminded me, yeah, that's a good suggestion. It does help, by moving your fingers over the page, about a minute or more, or less. It gives you, your blood circulation gets stronger, and that makes your fingers more sensitive. That's one thing.

Second thing, Allen mentioned the word interpoint. Many of you who do not know what it means, interpoint means braille on both sides of the page. When you have braille on both sides of a single page, that is called interpoint braille. If it is on one side, it's not interpoint. If you at all by chance Cinnamon you are trying to read, if you have sight, then no. Interpoint, or braille on both sides is not for you. It's really hard.

It's just by feeling, and if you feel the bumps, the heights of the dots, and not what I would say poking or the pierce through the dot to the paper, not that, but just the bumps. You should be able to read braille, even on the second side. It is a little bit challenging; it does come by practice as my popular slogan goes. You can always learn braille. Any challenges you feel in overcoming to read braille, you need to do three things, practice, practice, and practice. When you do three things, yes, you will definitely get better.

Cinnamon: Thank you. That took care of it. I just tried it, and it's gone, I forgot about that rubbing your fingers. Thank you.

Vileen S.: No, never ever rub. That's another issue. Yes. Always be gentle to my braille, I love braille. What I mean to say then feel gently. The more you rub the more you scrub, the more you feel frustrated and bring pressured on your fingers, and on your braille, that will not help you. The more it will lead to more frustration anyway. We referred to the issue of sight, Elyse who knows braille so well, and she can also see, she can share some experience on something about reading interpoint braille by sight, and then we'll take the next caller. My computer said there are three hands raised. Elyse.

Elyse H.: Yes, this is Elyse. You are right, the interpoint is so tricky. For sighted users, playing with the angle of the page really helps, because you can work with the light, and see different shadows, and try to just focus on the page that's facing me, rather than the dots that are going the other way. Another tip that I picked up when I was learning braille for visual learners in college, is to take a piece of chalk, or even sharpen your pencil, and just rub very gently on the top page of it to give the dots a little bit more color, the ones that are raised towards you.

So then using color contrast with a darker piece of chalk or pencil lead to work with interpoint. I've had students that have done interpoint, and it sometimes can, I guess I'll say the word sloppy. They don't do the spacing just correctly, they are still learning how to do that, and they've taken a pencil point, and just pushed the dots up a little bit stronger, it made them a little bit more crisp when I was grading their work. Those are some ideas reading interpoint visually.

Allen Kmiotek: One of the things I wanted to mention that I forgot to say is that if you have any sight at all, and this helps also too to be able to read braille by touch better, is to close your eyes. Because the vision that you are getting in your eyes, whether you have any vision at all or just a little bit, that light is going to distract. Your brain learns touch differently than reading things by sight.

By sight you are learning from a different part of the brain than you are from the other part of the brain that feels touch, and that helps to be able to concentrate more on the dots, and maybe you won't be able to feel the dots coming from the other side of the page.

Elyse H.: Great. Our next person, their phone number starts 760, what's your name please?

Beth: That's me.

Elyse H.: Yes, go ahead.

Beth: This is Beth, my question is like, when I was doing transitioning to Unified English Braille with Danette Johnson, I discovered that I never knew numbers of dots when they were introducing italics, it would be like a dot three, and I would think it was a dot six, or a dot six it was a dot three. Any of you, how would you distinguish that? That's where I have difficulty within M, N, S and H, and I think that might help too, those contractions. They’re flip-flopped. More people have a hard time with that.

Vileen S.: Very good. Allen.

Allen Kmiotek: If you are writing braille, you have to remember the dots are still the same. The right side of the column of the braille cell, there is two columns, dots one, two, and three on the right when you are writing braille, and dots four, five, six in the left. When you are reading braille it's in reverse so that dots, one, two, three is on the left, four, five, six is on the right. By learning the dot formations, depending on which way you are going, is going to help when someone says dot three, you know exactly where dot three is.

That's only, you have to get that in your head. One of the things I used to do when I was at the doctor's office or what, is I would try to envision the word in my head, like short words, cat, C-A-T, picture that, because a lot of us starting out, we like to try and picture a print braille letter, as opposed to a braille dot formation. Eventually you'll always see those dots when you are thinking of words and letters. That is a good practice point.

Then count those dots. If you are saying C, use dots one and four. You just keep repeating those and get those in your head so that it makes it easier to understand those. Over.

Vileen S.: Great. And most people I have noticed, I have been teaching braille for years and years, maybe starting 2005, so could be what? 14 years. One of the most common difficulties that I have noticed with many learners is that they are not able to distinguish between dot one and four, or dot four, five, and dot one two, or dots, one, two, three, or four, five, six. As Allen said, you need to picturize the dot formation in mind, and then in one of the presentations as I said, it's an issue, it’s the whole issue about spacing, about alignment, about the distance between dots.

Once you start recognizing the distance between dots. Once you start recognizing the alignment of dots, you will start doing much better in braille. These two things I'm going to explain a little more. I know other participants are waiting to ask their questions, but when this question has come up, I would like to briefly say about that.

Say for instance dot three, which is up close to bottom dot, your fingers should be able to feel that this is the bottom dot, and not the top dot, or not the middle dot. However, there are two bottom dots, dot three and dot six both. How do you distinguish? How do you identify whether it is dot three or six? The easiest and most recommended, convenient way is to compare it with the next braille letter, or sometimes even previous. I'll take an example of the next braille letter.

Let's say if you have dot three, and the next braille letter is letter R. You will see a distance between dot three and five as against dot six and five. Maybe you may want to pick up your writing device, a slate and stylus, or a braille writer, where is dot three and then letter R? Where is dot six and letter R? Mark the difference, you will see that between dot three and letter R there is a distance, a small distance, and between dot six and letter R, there is no such distance. There is little, if anything it's very little.

It’s simply because dot six is on the right side, and right side that is the next letter, and left side dot do not touch the next letter, because the right row, the second row of the six dot system is blank, therefore it leaves a distance. If you get the concept, if you are able to conceptualize the distance between dots you may understand it better. Similarly alignment, many people have difficulty understanding the at sign in UEB. An at sign in UEB consists of dots four, and then dots one. When you put these two dots together, it looks like letter C.

The C consists of dots one and four, but it's not C. How do you distinguish, how do you differentiate? Again, the distance. Pick up your device and write letter C, and then write dot four and A, feel the distance between dot four and dot one, or letter A. Between dot four and dot one there is a slightly bigger spacing, bigger distance then between two dots of letter C. This is what you need to understand, learn when you are learning braille. Try recognizing the distance, the spacing between dots, the alignment, the dot is upper side, top dot, middle dot, bottom dot. Then it all comes by practice, practice and practice.

Allen Kmiotek: Vileen?

Vileen S.: Yes Allen.

Allen Kmiotek: For those of you taking Braille Lit 1 and 2, you don't have a writing tool yet. But if you go to your page numbers, you learned the page numbers as the letter L in a full cell. Go up to page 11 or higher, and you'll feel the full cell, dots, one, two, three, four, five, six, and next to it the letter L, dot one, two, three. And in there, you can feel the space in between the two rows of the full cell, and then the space between the full cell and the L.

If you do that you can give yourself a little bit of a gauge of where those spaces are between those two particular cells and letters. It will help you until you are able to get your own writing tool to be able to experiment more, over.

Vileen S.: Great. I love you, Allen. Allen can think of beginner learners much more than I do. I appreciate that. Great suggestion, great input. Wonderful, let's go to the next person. Who is asking?

Elyse H.: We have about 10 minutes left. Let's see. This person's number is 850, what's your name please?

Vileen S.: That's Annely.

Annely: Hi, it's Annely in Florida. Can you hear me?

Vileen S.: Yes.

Annely: As far as reading braille, I have discovered there are a lot of materials that are written on thinner paper, thinner braille paper such as Hadley courses, and other materials, and I have been experimenting, and found that if I take two sheets of blank braille paper, and put them under the page that I am reading, so it's between the page I'm reading, and the next page, the braille dots stand out better. I've noticed that with braille sheets one on top of the other, the dots are kind of ... They are not completely flat or completely level.

If I put the sheets of blank braille paper underneath and read, the braille dots seem to be more pronounced. I worked this with someone else yesterday, and in the last few days, and found it to be much better. I don't know if anyone has tried this at home, but it's a good thing to try.

Vileen S.: Good suggestion, I never tried, but those who did not may want to try. All right. Thank you, Annely, next question.

Elyse H.: Wonderful, this number starts 847, what's your name place?

Vileen S.: People from Chicago. Who is this?

Roberta: My name is Roberta, I'm calling from Chicago. I'm at the uber beginning of my braille journey. I mean, I got my box in the mail yesterday from Hadley, literally. I'm literally just starting, but I love that hint about putting the extra papers behind the paper with the dots, because I could see that the texture might come through. I appreciate that one.

Vileen S.: Very true. Another thing I keep saying that even though there are many things that we talk about, people who know braille, but those who are beginner learners are going to be learning, and some day will come, when they also know braille. All these tips and discussions are useful even for beginner learners. Very good. Next question.

Allen Kmiotek: This is Allen. Remember Braille Lit 1 and 2 is your basic, Braille Lit 3 and 4 is already in UEB, so you won't have to worry about learning UEB, because it's already going to be in that format. It's going to stay the same. It's going to take a while before you are able to read the last lesson in the last course. Over.

Vileen S.: Very good. For beginner learners they don't have to worry about UEB even. Because they are learning only that. It's a new concept, but it's not anymore new now. UEB has been in use for nearly five years. So if you don't understand what this UEB is, again, do not worry. Keep it aside and learn what you are learning. We'll take the next question.

Elyse H.: Our next person has a hand up is Rodrick. Go ahead.

Rodrick: Thank you. This is Rodrick again. I just wanted to say those people who are starting Braille Literacy 1, stick with it. If you are in Braille Literacy 2, same thing. I'm midway through Braille Literacy 4 right now, and I am so glad for everything I learned from the basics, lesson one, braille literacy one on. It all builds on everything else. That continues throughout the Braille Literacy course. Thank you. Over.

Vileen S.: Thank you everybody. Please say over so we know you are done saying. Thank you for your input. Next one. Here comes Dorothy, Dorothy yes, what's your question?

Dorothy: I was going to ask the lady, I didn't hear her name, the new person that just got her package. I wanted to say that when I started, I still had a little bit of vision. It would have helped to have known, and I didn't realize for a long time, because I wasn't in one of the chat groups. That it helps to block that vision, like Vileen said a while ago, when you are learning braille, or maybe Allen said it, the brain, the light that you are getting will interfere with learning the braille dots.

I would just encourage the new person also to be patient in learning Lit 1 and 2, because those are so basic. Honestly, I don't remember Lit 1 very well now, which I had my material to go back and review that. I'm taking Lit 4 right now, and I'm on lesson 10, and I appreciate everything I've learned here. It is helpful including. Vileen, thank you so much for going over again the dot position, and spacing.

Vileen S.: Welcome.

Dorothy: Welcome to our new person and please keep coming back. Over.

Vileen S.: Her name is Roberta and thank you Dorothy for your words of appreciation. We mentioned Braille Lit 4, she is doing Braille Literacy 4 course. Those who are new to braille, remember Hadley offers four levels of braille teaching; Braille Literacy 1 just teaches you how to feel braille, and recognize two or three letters. Braille Literacy 2 teaches you entire alphabet and teaches you how to read words.

Braille Literacy 3 teaches you how to read and write in braille, but it's called uncontracted braille. Uncontracted braille means spelled out braille, every word is spelled out. Braille Literacy 4 teaches you contracted braille. Contracted braille means shorthand type, in which one letter represents a whole word, or two letters represent an entire word, or some part of the word. Basically, it uses contractions.

If you do not understand what all it is, don't worry now, when you get to that point and you start learning contracted braille, you will get a better idea. I did not use the word shorthand, because shorthand typing, which was so popular in the 1960s and 70s, or even before that, or continued until 1990, or a little later is no longer in use, because of the coming of computers. Some people may not be aware even about the shorthand typing in sighted world.

Contracted braille is something to do with using letters or a combination of letters representing entire words, or part of the words. Over. Let's see if anybody has the last question for today.

Allen Kmiotek: This is Allen, one comment on closing your eyes. You could also use a sleep shade, and there is also these glasses you can get from Amazon, I forget the name of them, but they are wraparound, they are very dark, and they cover even the sides of your eyes, so no light comes in. Those are other options to keep the light from coming through the eyes. Over.

Vileen S.: Great. Great. Experience speaks. That's something I never experienced, because I'm totally blind, having no vision at all, no light perception. Literally I think if I can say you may want to blindfold yourself. Invite the discomfort to get comfort in your life by learning braille, for some times. Okay?

So with that I would like to wrap up today's session, but not before thanking you all for joining and participating. Thank you, Allen, for a greet speech, great presentation, bye now.