How to Improve Finger Sensitivity

Hadley Learner Allen Kmiotek, and other group participants, shared tips on how to increase finger sensitivity, an important part of reading tactile braille.

December 19, 2019

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Audio Transcript


Embracing Braille – How to Improve Finger Sensitivity

Presented by Vileen Shah

December 19, 2019

Vileen S: Ladies and gentlemen, this is Vileen Shah. It's time to begin.

Here we go. So today, our chief guest, our guest speaker, Allen Kmiotek is going to talk about how to increase finger sensitivity, and this presentation is really going to be helpful. Not only for beginner learners, but also I would say even the people who have learned braille. Maybe they also can benefit. So thank you so much, Allen, for being with us. Allen Kmiotek has been our, I would say evergreen participant. He always gives his constructive views and suggestions and comments. You all have heard him asking and giving his extraordinary suggestions and views, but today once again you are going to hear him as a presenter. He did one and everybody was so happy when he did his presentation in last August, I think it was. So, we are so blessed to have Allen Kmiotek once again. Over to Allen.

Allen Kmiotek: Well, what I wanted to talk to you about was about finger sensitivity, but before I get into that for those of you that may not know me, I've lost my vision back in 2006. Not all of it. It's kind of spotty. It's a bunch of dots and some weird colors, but I started taking braille in 2007 and with the medical conditions that I got back then I had neuropathy in both hands and my feet, and eventually the right hand got better. The left hand not so much, and as trying to learn braille, with Sharon Howerton for Braille Lit 1 and 2, it was a little bit challenging. I managed to get through it but didn't really know how to improve the sensitivity. I started taking Braille Lit 3, and Vileen had sent me a email on tips on good braille habits, and in there was some tips to help with that and I sent that again to Vileen and hopefully he can add that to the notes for this call. It's about six pages but it's really helpful and it has a lot of other information. I won't go into detail because that information really explains it very well. But one of the things that you really need to do before you start even getting ready to read is to make sure your hands are clean and dry, and especially warm. Because when they get cold, everything starts to diminish. You won't be able to read as well, so either by putting them under hot water or doing finger exercises or rubbing your hands together or sitting on them. All will help to get that heat going. Next, if your hands are extremely dry and you want to get a little moisturizing, one of the things I've found is a moisturizer called Aveeno, A-V-E-E-N-O, and it was the original version. It's a white bottle with green top on it, but it works well into the skin, it's hypoallergenic, and it doesn't leave a greasy residue on your fingers, but it helps to moisturize them so they're a little bit more softer to be able to feel the dots.

Next, make sure you're sitting in a comfortable chair, preferably at a desk that has a typing table so it's a little bit lower than a normal table. Because if your arms are up a little bit, your shoulders will get sore, your neck will start to get sore, and that will start to distract you from trying to concentrate on the dots. And make sure you're in a comfortable room with little distraction. If you can, close the door or whatever so that you can concentrate. If you have any vision whatsoever it would be advisable to close your eyes, because any light sensitivity that comes in is going to also distract. If you can do a sleep shade, or they have these dark glasses that you can wear. That helps to block out all that so you can concentrate better on your braille reading. Now, before you start to read, in the instructions that Vileen gave me it says to spread your fingers out, all ten of them, and rub them across the page. You can do that, or you can just do the fingers that work best for you, and what you're doing is you're not trying to read them. You're just running back and forth, up and down, in circles, for about twenty minutes to a minute, depending on how much you need, and when you stop, what happens is it's making the blood vessels in your finger come alive and the sensitivity a little bit better, and then start to read. Now as you're reading, the new people, figure ten, fifteen minutes a session. If you're getting through that session and you notice that your sensitivity is getting dim, do it again. Do it as many times as you need to keep that sensitivity going. Make sure your finger pad is on the page straight up and down and that you're feeling all three sections of the cell, the first, second, third part of the cell. That way you make sure that you're getting all that you need out of that particular session.

Some other things that will diminish, like I mentioned neuropathy. That is difficult to deal with. Some people can take a medication that can help reduce neuropathy, but it also reduces your sensitivity, which is kind of a catch-22 kind of thing. Other things that can also reduce sensitivity is if you're taking any kind of medication for pain, or opioids, or even cold medicines can sometimes do that. Anything that will reduce sensitivity in your system will reduce the sensitivity in your fingers, but not to worry. Practice like Vileen says many times is the key to everything, and don't get discouraged if you're not getting it right away. It will come in time, but all those tips, and there's probably more out there that I haven't discovered, that will help you being able to get through your braille lessons with less frustration. I know it's short. I've got a cold so I'm trying to get it through so I don't lose my voice, but I hope that will give you some idea and we can discuss more in questions and answers after I'm done here. So just remember, keeping your hands warm, dry, comfortable position, and do the finger exercises. In Braille Lit 1 they have a exercise that tells you to do for fifteen minutes before you start doing your lessons, so if you can do some of that before you start your lesson that helps also to get your fingers ready to read your lesson. With that I turn it back over to Vileen, and thanks for listening.

Vileen S: Thank you so much, Allen, for this short and sweet but so precise presentation. You said all so well, and despite having cold you were very clear as far as I could understand. I'm pretty sure if I could, everybody else could understand you well. About one of the things that Allen mentioned, you're taking any painkillers. Basically, the pain is something that we feel in our nerves, and the task of painkiller is not to cure your disease or your problem but just make your nerves dumb so that you don't feel the pain. Obviously, if it makes your nerves, N-E-R-V-E-S. Maybe I have some accent there. If it makes your nerves dumb or insensitive, that would affect your fingers. Our sensation is in our nerves, and when we feel braille dots with our fingertips, with the top pad in our fingers, it is the nerves that help us to feel the dots, and if the nerves are desensitized, if the nerves become less sensitive, that affects our braille reading. So I'm not saying you don't take painkillers, but maybe that's one of the reasons if you're having some less sensitivity in your fingernails.

Allen Kmiotek: Vileen?

Vileen S: Yes.

Allen Kmiotek: I have one more thing.

Vileen S: Yeah, go ahead.

Allen Kmiotek: I do take something for my neuropathy, and I take it at night. It's called gabapentin, and I can do it at night and by the time daytime comes it's not so bad. I can read things. But if I try and take that same medication during the day, forget it. Nothing is going to work for me, so it all depends on when you take those pain medications as well. Over.

Elyse H: Okay, Rick. You're next in line.

Rick: I had never heard of that exercise of rubbing your fingers in circles around the page to heighten the sensitivity. The rest of that I've discovered pretty much by experience too. Keep your hands warm and dry. I noticed that when I used to wait for the city buses that if my hands got cold, forget braille reading. And keeping lined up vertically along the cell, I never even thought about that consciously but that is important, so all good stuff. Thank you. Over. One of the things I wanted to mention about doing that exercise with rubbing on the page. Make sure it's light so you don't squish down the pages. You might use a page that you're never going to read again, or you can just do a three by five card and you'll just put a bunch of cells on there and use that as a starting page as well. Over.

Vileen S: Yeah, so sometimes I say, "Be kind to the pages." So fun. Okay, very good. Next question.

Elyse H: I see a hand up from Sue. Can you hear us?

Vileen S: Sue. Okay.

Sue: I can.

Vileen S: Alright, Sue Brasel.

Sue: I wanted to also add that when you're reading braille, it depends on where your finger touches the braille. It's really not good to read with the tip of your finger. It's better to read with the pad of your finger, so that's something else that will help your awareness when you're reading braille. Over.

Allen Kmiotek: Yeah, that's what I was referring to is making sure that your pad of the finger that you're reading with is positioned properly so you can feel the first, second, and third part of the cell. If you're not getting all the cell then you either might have the page turned a little bit, or your finger is facing in the wrong direction, or it's down a little bit or up a bit. So you have to keep practicing to get used to where your finger needs to be as you're reading across the page, because you're going to have some cells that are going to have one dot in it, and so you're going to need to make sure you're reading that dot in the proper place. Over.

Vileen S: Very true. Here's where it comes to the connection between finger sensitivity and dot alignment. You need to train your fingers to be able to read the dot alignment of this dot number one or top dot, and number two, middle dot, number three, bottom dot, while reading on the left, and dot four top, dot five middle, dot six bottom. Unless you are able to figure that out, it will be lot difficult for you to really read braille with accuracy. Yesterday, and I'm not giving any names. I'm not violating confidentiality. But one student read "lord" as W. Those who know contracted braille can understand. Think of the contraction "lord." Dot 5 and L. If you put that together it looks like W, but it's not, because the spacing between dot 5 and L is slightly wider, slightly bigger than the dots for W which is dots 2, 4, 5, 6. Once again, if it is W, it is dot 2, 4, 5, 6. If it is dot 5, L it is dot 5 and dots 1, 2, and 3. So that's different and that comes by having good finger sensitivity. Over.

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

Dorothy: Hi. Thank you for the great tips today. This is really helpful. I'm still having to work on what Vileen was talking about the dot alignment and spacing, and I think that some of us are slower and coming to a good place on that than others. But Allen, I don't know if you're going to be able to answer my question about the fingers and the coldness. I'm not used to 26 degrees, and I'm in Texas and so I need some hints and tips on how to keep the hands warm enough to read braille and if you have gloves on you can't be reading braille, so I don't know what a good idea is for that. Over.

Vileen S: It's a hard question. Let's see.

Allen Kmiotek: They sell gloves with the fingertips cut off, so you might want to try and get that. It'll keep most of your hand warm so that you don't have to try and warm the entire hand, and that might help keep the rest of your fingers free so you can read, and usually you can get those in a sporting goods store. It's usually workout gloves is what they are, but if you can get something or even a pair of gloved mittens of wool and cut them off yourself, even if you just do one hand, and do it that way. You might be able to do that, but there is no other way other than making sure the room is warm that you're sitting in when you're reading. Over.

Dorothy: Okay, thanks.

Vileen S: Okay, thanks and what I thought. I thought Texas is warm enough that that should not make you cold. In fact I thought Texas people can send some warmth to people living in the east, but anyway. That's interesting. Okay, over.

Allen Kmiotek: The mitten gloves I'm referring to is, it's a glove with the fingertips off and there's this, like a mitten thing that comes up and over. Up to the top of your hand, so when you pull it over your fingers it looks like you've got a mitten on, but that you can pull the flap back and then expose your fingers, but most of your hand is still in the glove part. Over.

Vileen S: And that does a lot. Very good.

Elyse H: Okay, Rick. You're next in line. Can you hear us?

Rick: Yes, just fine. It sounds like Allen does the same thing I do. Anyway, not to gainsay anything any of you said, but I tend to have the opposite problem and I kind of start to stumble and then realize that my finger's too far extended, and I have to bring it back toward the tip a little bit to be able to read properly. But like you say, with practice you figure out what's best for you, and to reassure anyone that did have trouble with "lord" and W, with practice you will be able to make that distinction. When I was first learning I'd ask my mother, "What's this SPND?" This was before I learned the contractions, and it turned out of course it was dot 6, A. It was "And" that's starting a sentence. So this stuff happens. Hang in there. Over.

Vileen S: Yes. That's right. The buzzword is do three things: practice, practice, and practice.

Elyse H: Okay, Donald. You're next in line. Can you hear us?

Vileen S: Yeah. Donald.

Donald: Yes. I'm here. What I wonder is, if you're when you're born ... I was born blind. I learned braille when I was like, six, and I've never had any trouble with finger sensitivity but except that I do remember going shopping with my family and I would take a book with me and they'd let me sit in the car while they went shopping so I could read and not have to walk through the stores and be bored. Well, the thing is a couple of times it was cold out and I didn't realize, but finally once my fingers got cold enough, I didn't feel like reading. What I want to know is if you're born blind, and I guess it doesn't mean your fingers are automatically sensitive but it means that you have to use your fingers and I guess they became sensitive because I used them, but I'm wondering if that makes a difference. I'd hear about the people with neuropathy, the people with different conditions that have trouble with finger sensitivity. I never have, and I take pain medication and that does not affect my finger sensitivity at all that I know of. So I'm wondering if being born blind and learning to use your fingers that way keeps you from having trouble with finger sensitivity. Does anybody know anything about that?

Vileen S: This one we need Allen.

Allen Kmiotek: Definitely if you're young and you have no sight and learning braille at that time, children absorb things a lot faster than those of us that have lost our vision later in life, and you become more sensitive to everything that's around you. So that is a plus as far as that goes, and not all pain medications are going to affect everybody the same way. If I take an 800 ibuprofen, I'm out of it, and some people it doesn't bother them at all. So it all is going to make the difference in how your body reacts to that, but definitely as a younger reader you're going to learn a lot better and your fingers are going to adjust better than those of us that, especially if you work woodwork or you play the guitar with your right hand that's a lefthanded guitar, you're going to develop calluses, and that's going to make it difficult to read as well, so you have to get those calluses filed down so that you can be able to read if that's the finger you're going to read with. If you read with your left hand, the same thing. A right-handed guitar is going to be your left hand is going to be reading. Some people read with their left even though they're right-handed dominant, so calluses are going to affect you as well. Over.

Vileen S: Very, very true. Yes. Callused and reading braille don't go together, so you have to get rid of one, and certainly you don't want to get rid of braille reading, so yes. But as an option, if you have a callus on one finger, you may try another finger. If your callus doesn't get worn out, you may try another finger. If you will try if at all now you need, you can read braille with all fingers. I mentioned earlier, so I don't want to say it again and again, but those who do not know, those who are new, I am able to read braille with my thumbs. And practically I'm able to read braille with all ten fingers, but my pinky is not that active. I'm not sure I can really read it with accuracy, but I do manage. This again is an example, not as bragging, but as an example. You can feel better that there are options and you can always try reading braille with any finger that you can try and learn. Over. More questions?

Allen Kmiotek: This is Allen. One of the other things that I've heard some people do, Sharon Howerton tried this as well, but they use the outside of their index finger, which is the side of your finger. You have to turn your hand a little bit and read that way. It's a little uncomfortable but it's possible, and she was able to read braille that way as well. It's not the preferred way, but if it's the only way, it's another option. Over.

Vileen S: Good. Yeah. Good one, good one. Yes, sure. Okay, next question.

Elyse H: Okay. Beth, you're next in line. Can you hear us?

Beth: Oh, yeah. Yeah, hi.

Elyse H: Okay. Go ahead.

Beth: I was going to ask about thermoform paper. I like thermoform to put recipes on, like that plastic paper, but thermoform, I don't know if anybody had trouble with this, but that paper seems to wrinkle a little easier. Do they still make that paper for that reason? And I also, it seems like your fingers get a little more sweaty quicker when you're using that kind of thermoform. Over.

Vileen S: Wow.

Allen Kmiotek: Yeah, that is the problem with thermoform paper. If your hands are sweaty or damp, they will tend to stick so you want to make sure your hands are dry, but thermoform is still available and you can still get it, and there are periodicals that can be printed as well in that. Sometimes children's books are done that way for durability. Over.

Vileen S: Wow. That's something I did not know. Good.

Elyse H: This is Elyse. I'll interject. I believe APH has thermoform packs of paper if you're interested in purchasing and using it for your own use. I'll be sure to include the information in our notes today.

Vileen S: Yeah. That would be nice.

Elyse H: Okay, Jodie, you're next in line. Can you hear us?

Jodie: Yes.

Vileen S: Oh, hi Jodie.

Jodie: Hi everybody. I had to make a comment about keeping your hands warm. I'm in New Hampshire and this morning it was 4 degrees, and I went out and shoveled my walk, and of course I had gloves on, and when I came back inside I just run my hands under hot water and thaw them out, and that really helps a lot. So if your hands are really cold just run them under hot water for a while.

Vileen S: Yes. That's for sure.

Jodie: The other comment that I was going to make is, when I first started reading braille I pressed down too far, so that I could actually feel the base of the paper, and I found that over time my fingers were actually more sensitive just by brushing the tops of the dots, and I think that's probably a bad habit that a lot of beginner readers do is to press down too hard and that your fingers can actually be more sensitive when you use a very light touch, which kind of sounds counter-indicated but it's true.

Vileen S: One thing, whether your fingers are sensitive or not, you do not want to press hard. Do not scrub. You don't want to use your fingers as a scrub. You don't want to scrub the soil or the floor, you know? We are reading braille, which means very gentle touch. The touch that helps you feel dots. The touch that helps you feel the difference, the distance, the spacing between dots. The touch that helps you feel the dots, the height. Bottom, middle, or top. But again, the bottom line is that you don't want to scrub braille. Yes. Allen, you would like to add something?

Allen Kmiotek: Yeah, the light touch is the key, obviously. The only time that I would ever scrub is either getting back my braille lesson, because by the time it goes through the mail to Vileen and then back to me, the dots are squished so bad I can't read them unless I try and scrub, and that's the only time I've been able to do it. I've been getting Christmas cards the same way. I don't know. They must have elephants working at the post office because these dots are all squished down. Over.

Vileen S: Yes. Yeah, there's certainly another issue. When you send something in braille, the post office really, there's no way that they will be kind to braille. There's heavy loads. So the best thing is of course that some people use bubble wrap envelopes. Really not necessary, but protect your braille with chipboard, or cardboard. Put a piece of cardboard, two pieces, and put your braille lessons in between so that they can be well protected under the postal crushing.

Elyse H: Okay. I see another hand up here. Beth, you're next in line.

Beth: We have cold weather too. I'm in Iowa, and sometimes my apartment is ... Well, no it isn't very insulated so it's kind of hard. Maybe if I do the same with the hot water and put my hands, because it's very hard to read. It's almost like your fingers are numb when you read it when your hands are cold. Also, and I'm curious. I had a friend who said ... Well he was a preemie but technically I would say he was born blind, but he had a hard time with braille because he said his fingers went numb, and then he'd read it and he'd fall asleep. I'm wondering and kind of curious what that kind of problem is. Over.

Vileen S: Every individual is different in terms of finger sensitivity, and how to find out? What are the standards that we can apply to find out the level of sensitivity of fingers? Well, we do not know. I think that nature determines something and we get our finger sensitivity what the nature gives us, and that has nothing to do with whether somebody is prematurely born, if somebody is born blind, or somebody learns it late. Yes, late blindness is a big struggle, and it calls for lots of adjustments. Emotional, mental, physical, and in that struggle, a person who becomes blind in his or her late age, certainly finds it so difficult to read braille, learn braille. Then, you know, it's like this. When you have other options and when you are compared to transition from one option another, by which I mean, that if you have a print option. You are sighted. You are reading print. Suddenly you become blind, and now you no longer can read print, so the transition from print to braille is so difficult. Here I recall one of our participants, Adam Kriegle. I'm not sure he's with us today participating, but he mentioned it right. He said that he was trying to configure braille dots and braille letters with the print letters. No, you can never do that. Once again, whatever the sensitivity of your finger allows you to read, but you need to learn braille at a scratch without matching it with your knowledge of reading print when you have that situation. So, there are instances, by the way, there are instances in which people learn braille at very late age and they are able to read well. They are able to do it so well. Sue Brasel is one example. By chance Sue, if you are here just comment on what I'm saying, okay? After I'm done. Sue Brasel learned braille, if I'm not mistaken and if I can share, in her 50s when she encountered the loss of vision. She taught herself braille, and at least she managed to learn uncontracted braille, and then she came to Hadley and she became my student. That's how I know her and know about her. We learned contracted braille. Allen Kmiotek, our own presenter, is a good example and he never gave up. He persists. He knows how to persist, and that's how he took four different courses from me in braille, but he saw that he learned braille, and he did it in his late age.

So there are so many examples in which we find that people manage to learn braille even at late age when their finger sensitivity is relatively less than of course what a child has. More questions?

Sue: Vileen, this is Sue.

Elyse H: I see a lot of hands. Sue, yes. There you are. Go ahead.

Sue: Yeah. I went ahead and when I lost my sight, I was in my late 50s but by the time I was learning braille I was in my 60s, and yes, I learned it but don't forget that the oldest lady that finally succeeded with all of her braille was in her 90s. I was just so super impressed with her. Over.

Vileen S: Thank you, Sue Brasel, and thank you for joining and sharing.

Sue: You're welcome.

Vileen S: Yes, go ahead Allen. You wanted to say something?

Allen Kmiotek: Just one thing. Another thing to help get the circulation in your hand. If you can get something spongy like a Nerf ball and exercise with that, it not only gets your fingers limber but it strengthens them a little bit more so they don't tire as much as you're trying to read in longer sessions, but that might help you as well. I have a rubbery thing. It's like a foamy thing that I use occasionally because of the neuropathy. If you can keep exercising your fingers and your hands it can help work out some of that neuropathy. Over.

Vileen S: Yes. Thank you. Experience speaks louder than the theory, and that's good to know from his experience. Thank you, Allen. Yes. Next one?

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

Katrina: Yes. Can you hear me?

Elyse H: Yes.

Vileen S: Yes.

Katrina: Okay. When I was very young, I had lost my sight and then I got healed, and then I started losing it again because of glaucoma. Well, I'd learned print in between those times. I was in between braille and not knowing how to read and in print, and when I lost my sight this time because I had it for so long and I even drove for a long time, when I went back to learning braille it's been very challenging and at first, I was afraid when I met Vileen. But I'll tell you, I've been recommending him to everybody because if it hadn't have been for him I would have already quit, because I've done Lesson 4 at least three times, and it's very discouraging but I want to learn. It's not sensitivity with me. It's just remembering where all the dots are and how to place them, and oh man, it's very complicated.

Vileen S: Okay. Thank you, Katrina. Here's what I tell most of my students. If you have to redo, if you have to do your lesson again and again, don't be discouraged. Because, why you had to do it again? You made errors, and I call errors your teacher. You're having errors, and go on, continue, persist, and be sure that you learn. If you have that sort of spirit, that kind of determination, you will never feel discouraged. Thank you for bringing this up, Katrina, and let's move on. By the way, anything else, Allen, you would like to add here?

Allen Kmiotek: Well one thing is, our visual learners that have learned print and then kind of remember braille, try not to think of the print letter when you're trying to read a braille letter. Try and get the number of like an E, 1 and 5. Get that in your head as that's an E, not a print E, and that's something that we all go through to try and get over, and once you get to the point where you're seeing the whole word in your head in braille as opposed to in print, that takes a while, but practice doing that and that makes it a little bit easier. Over.

Vileen S: Very true. Very right, and that also comes from his own experience and not only what Allen experienced. Many other people who have gone through the transition from print to braille. It is such a good lesson. Never ever do both together. Forget print. It's not easy to forget but forget it when you do braille. Okay, next one?

Elyse H: Okay, I think this is Dorothy. Can you hear us?

Dorothy: Yes. Thank you.

Vileen S: Oh, Dorothy, [inaudible] You are always at the forefront. Okay, go ahead.

Dorothy: I wanted to compliment Katrina for her bravery because it is difficult when we make mistakes and we have to repeat stuff, but I'm so happy that you're hanging in there and doing that so I wanted to encourage you, but also it happens to all of us in different ways and like with what Allen was just saying about the trying to memorize the braille by thinking in shapes and so on. I think we've all made that mistake from time to time and I've done that too, and it's a hard habit to break so I think that one thing you're saying, Vileen, is that when we're sighted, we learn the print and then we do try to connect the two together somehow, and I wondered a while back why people were asking me, "Are you starting to see the way it's written in braille in your head?" And you know, I had not gotten that until recently that absolutely that is beginning to happen now, so it's a long time for some of us with that transition, and thank you for the opportunity to be here today but also, thank you for the great ideas. Allen, just the idea about taking a pain med at a different time. That's a great suggestion, and many of the others are very usable too. I like the one about the exercise ball because that's helped me a lot this year also. Thank you. Over.

Vileen S: Thank you. Yes, Allen. You want to say anything?

Allen Kmiotek: No, everything Dorothy said was absolutely correct and just keep in mind, those of you that are losing your vision in a later age, it's difficult just dealing with that. So by dealing with that and getting into braille, those are two difficult things to do, and just take it day by day and eventually things will start to fall into place, and it'll be a lot easier for you to concentrate on your braille. Over.

Vileen S: Terrific. Very good. Here I would cite another example. As Dorothy said and many of you even experienced, a transition from print to braille is never easy, which is fine. There was an interesting movie. I'm not sure if anybody ... Oh, some of you might have watched it. The title was At First Sight. In this movie, a blind person becomes sighted, and everybody thinks that, "Oh, you are now sighted. You can do everything that a sighted person can do." But no. That movie really explained the whole issue so well. This blind man who became sighted had really, really hard time to understand the sighted world. His girlfriend, you know, he was waiting to be ... Waiting for the hug, and the blind man did not give, and so she asked, "I was there. You saw me, and you walked away. What happened?" And he said that, "Well, I always knew you by your voice. I did not know how you look, so I did not know it was you." Point I am trying to make is that any transition, whether it is from sight to blindness, or blindness to sight, is always difficult, challenging, calls for lots of adjustment, but one thing that helps you, particularly those who have started learning braille after a while, one thing that helps you. It starts with P, and that's called patience. Patience is a virtue. So you have patience, you will be able to persist and once you continue to persist you will gain success. Because persistence spells success. Period. Okay, next question.

Elyse H: Okay, we have a few minutes left so Vileen, I'll leave it to you. There's three hands. What would you ... Take a few more?

Vileen S: Okay. Yes, really quick get through three hands and try to finish. Yes.

Elyse H: Alright, alright. Donald, let's see. You're next in line. Can you hear us?

Donald: Yes I can. I wanted to add something to what I said before. Not only was I born blind, but I was born two months premature. So I'm a preemie.

Vileen S: Alright, you are a preemie.

Donald: And what's funny about it is that when I took Psychology of Behavior and Development in college, the textbook tried to tell us all the disadvantages that premature children, premature babies had, and how terrible it was, how hard it was, how difficult it was, and on and on and on and on. I think everything that they said was a disadvantage to them had been an advantage to me, and I thought that was funny because I didn't doubt the authors of the book and I wasn't challenging them. I was just saying, "Oh, well, thank God I didn't have any of the problems that they're talking about."

Vileen S: Thank goodness. Yes.

Donald: But it's great. I think it's great that different people can advise other people how to do things that people that are learning braille, because it just is so helpful for me to listen. I mean, I don't have to listen to any of it and I don't have to follow it because I don't need it, but I just think it's wonderful that we have a group like this where people can share and can learn and can benefit by what people have to say.

Vileen S: Terrific. Any comment, Allen?

Allen Kmiotek: No, other than the fact that since we were talking about premature babies, back in the 50s when they had that they would put the children in incubators and they would put too much oxygen in it. Maybe they weren't born blind, but the too much oxygen caused them to become blind, so they realized that but obviously too late, but don't do that anymore hopefully. Over.

Vileen S: I'm not too sure, but yeah, that's right. I have had many learners who say that because of overuse of oxygen they lost their sight. Okay, next question.

Allen Kmiotek: Okay, Jasmine. You're next in line. Can you hear us?

Jasmine: Yes, I can.

Vileen S: Okay. Here you go. Yes.

Jasmine: Okay, so my other question is, could jumbo braille help someone with neuropathy? Because I heard about jumbo braille from one of my friends.

Vileen S: Yeah.

Jasmine: Over.

Vileen S: Okay. Well, jumbo braille is certainly an option that people can use, but there's very little information available in jumbo braille. So it's not a great option.

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

Beth: Yeah. I was also wondering about the magazines. Sometimes when I read like Reader's Digest I get confused, I think because it's on both sides of the page and it's like, some letters are like there's one extra dot, or it seems like there's one extra dot because I don't know if it's the line, like it maybe would crease or something or it got in the mail like when it would come in a box. Over.

Vileen S: Okay, thank you. Next one.

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

Jodie: I was also born three months premature and I'm glad I didn't hear about all those problems. I never had those either, and I think it was because there wasn't a lot of the additional problems that the preemies have now, but when they stopped giving oxygen babies died so all things considered I'd rather be blind. I did learn braille when I was 65, and the other comment I was going to make is that when I was a child I was legally blind, so I used to read by holding the print up to my nose and what I love about braille is I can read at arm's length.

Vileen S: That's right. Okay.

Allen Kmiotek: In reading interpoint braille, if you're feeling the dot from the other side of the page then it's possible you might be pressing too hard. Sighted people have more difficulty reading interpoint braille than blind people because a light touch, you should not be feeling those other dots as well. Over.

Vileen S: Very, very right Allen. Thank you so much, and that tells that if you are not aware, that you are pressing too hard. When you feel dots on the other side or at least some kind of feeling that you have dot, that means you're pressing too hard. Don't do that, and just touch very softly. Very gentle touch. That's the keyword to learn braille. Okay ladies and gentlemen, I thank you so much for joining us, and once again, I wish you all happy holidays but do not forget, we have our next session open question/answer session. Bye now.