Question and Answer Session 4

This week's discussion was an open-ended question and answer session. The group shared many great resources for incorporating more practice into your day.

July 25, 2019

Don't miss the next episode

Audio Transcript


Embracing Braille – Q&A Session July

Presented by Vileen Shah

July 25, 2019

Vileen S.: Today is your session which means you can ask questions related to braille. Remember, you're not only asking questions, you want to share your experience, your views, your opinions, your difficulties related to that, anything pertaining to braille, okay? All right, let's go.

This group is like a family, so don't feel shy all right? Let's take the first question.

Elyse H.: We have a hand, the number starts 903, go ahead.

Vileen S.: Say your name first please.

Michelle: This is Michelle.

Vileen S.: Yes, Michelle?

Michelle: Yes, it's probably a simple question but I'd love some feedback. I cut my index finger which is on my right hand and it's causing an incredible problem with trying to read my braille. I'm not even close to being as fluent with my left hand, even though I'm a left handed person. Can I get some feedback on maybe if it's happened to you, what you've been able to do? I know it's in the healing process but it's really difficult trying to read my braille.

Vileen S.: All right, very good question, thank you Michelle. One thing I will say, you're not the only one to cut your finger. Particularly anybody who cooks, cleans, or does any carpentry happens to cut their fingers, so I hope that it shouldn't happen, but it does happen. One of my learners was using an electric screwdriver. Obviously, you can understand what would have happened to him, and he could not read braille for nearly six months.

Michelle: Wow.

Vileen S.: We will definitely take the input from others but I will share whatever I feel about it. Number one, as long as your finger is injured you should not read braille with that finger. Given that, you may want to try other fingers, maybe your other finger will turn out to be more efficient. Probably this is an indication from the nature that you want to try your other fingers to read braille, and that is one thing you can try.

Of course it may not come immediately by using the ring finger or the middle finger. Initially you may not even feel much, you may not feel the dots correctly, but gradually it will come up and you will develop an ability to read braille with other fingers, and that's really good. If you could read braille with more fingers.

Okay, so this is what I feel that you may want to try and read with other fingers, okay? That's my offering.

Michelle: Thank you.

Vileen S.: Ask people advice on that.

Elyse H.: There was another question that came through the chat but we'll keep it open for Michelle's question first.

Vileen S.: Correct. I think the other question came, how long I should practice braille, correct?

Elyse H.: Yes, so we do have another hand up from Allen.

Vileen S.: We will certainly take that question whoever asked, but we will first focus on the first question that Michelle asked.

Elyse H.: Allen, do you want to respond to that?

Allen: Yes. I'm not able to do this, but some people have said they can try and read with the side of their index finger, the outside edge of your index finger, see how that works. I have not been successful at doing that, but that's another option as well. Over.

Vileen S.: Oh that's terrific, Allen. But I doubt and wonder if you can read braille... Yeah, I'm reading it here. Yeah, it's doable! But using the side of the fingertips. Maybe it's worth trying, I just tried on my braille display now and I never tried that.

Yeah, it's doable but it's probably not accurate, not perfect. You have a chance of misreading, but it's still worth trying. It's better to read something and make some errors than not to read.

Michelle: Right.

Vileen S.: So surely Allen's suggestion is good. Thank you, Allen. Next one.

Michelle: Thank you, Allen.

Elyse H.: Irene, you have your hand up. Would you like to make a comment?

Irene: If you can use your same hand the finger is hurt on to do that, if you can't, try reading with your left hand or your hand that's not hurt. I think you said it was your left hand that wasn't hurt.

Michelle: Yes, thank you.

Vileen S.: Yes, if your right index finger is hurt you can read with left hand and as long as you can manage it is fine. But as far as I'm concerned I insist on using both hands, in which case you may want to try another finger of the hand that has an injured finger. Good idea.

Michelle: Thank you.

Elyse H.: Great, our next person's number starts 303. What's your name please?

Estelle: This is Estelle, and I think you might have just answered my comment. But I was wondering how you felt about everybody trying to practice their braille with other fingers in case something like that should come up. I try with my left hand as well as my right and sometimes I find that my non dominant hand can actually feel a little better than my dominant hand. So I just wondered if you would advise everyone whether they have an injury or neuropathy or whatever, to try to learn with more than one finger. Thank you.

Vileen S.: Thank you, Estelle, I already said that. But the difference is that I advised, and you related your personal experience how you try, and that makes more impact. Terrific, thank you so much. Once again, everybody feel free to say, share, and give your views, share your experience. No question is dumb, no answer is bad, so please speak up. Okay, next one.

Elyse H.: Any other comments for Michelle? Or we can go to our question in the chat.

Vileen S.: Next question.

Elyse H.: Okay, so the question, how often should you practice your braille? Every day or should you do every other day? And how long should you practice during the day? This person says they practice for at least 15 to 30 minutes a day.

Vileen S.: Who is the person to-

Elyse H.: I believe that's from Sonya, and there's one reply. It said "Reading your braille a few minutes every day is extremely helpful."

Vileen S.: Sure, terrific, yes. All right, in order to answer that question I may say that how long you should practice reading braille, that is pretty much a personal convenience and personal view. If I would say minimum, yes, minimum at least 15 to 20 minutes every day. Do not do it alternate days. Not that I do not want you to do it, but braille is a system that you can learn by continuous practice. Continuity is a key to successfully learning braille.

So as long as you're able to keep the continuity, read it every day, practice this every day, it's certainly desired. If your fingers get tired after reading braille for 10 minutes, 15 minutes, that's the time you should stop. If your fingers are fine, which sometimes your brain is tired, brain gets lots of exercise when you read braille. You need to figure out each time the different dot combinations, and your fingers and your brain really have to work together.

Maybe if you are tired mentally, then also you should stop. But if your fingers are doing fine, your brain is doing well, then go ahead and read it for more times, 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours, as long as you enjoy doing it, do it. Once again, if we're talking about a minimum time for practicing braille, I will say approximately 15 minutes a day. If you cannot do it every day, sure, you may do it alternate days. It's not prohibited, it's not that, just you may want to do it as much as you can.

Once again, how much is an individual preference. How well you can do it, ask yourself. But certainly ask us also, because any feedback is most welcome. I'm sure Allen always has something good, good input to give us, so if Allen would like to say I would request him to make his input and then we'll ask others to raise their hands.

Allen: This is Allen. The best thing if you're starting out, 10, 15 minutes a day is good, or per session. If you have the sensitivity still that you can go on a couple times a day like that is fine. But what I've been trying to do is each week increasing my reading time and I set my timer on my phone so I can identify how fast I'm reading each time to what point in that reading session, and that kind of gives you a gauge on how much you've been able to read as you improve your reading. Over.

Elyse H.: Great. We have another hand up. Susan, you're next.

Susan: Hello?

Vileen S.: Yes, hello Susan.

Susan: Well I found when I was taking the course, I believe it was Allen who said he increased his time from time to time, and I found that every day... you know, I enjoyed taking the course so much that I had to tear myself away from it. As long as your finger or whatever you're using to read it, one or two or four or five, as long as they hold up and they don't get kind of raw feeling, that's when I would stop and then take a break before I went back to it.

Vileen S.: Good, sounds good. See, that's what we want to do. Yes, your input is very valuable. Thank you, Susan.

Susan: You're welcome.

Vileen S.: All right, take the next person whose finger is raised.

Elyse H.: Next is Estelle. Go ahead Estelle.

Vileen S.: Estelle, wonderful.

Estelle: Thank you. The thing that helps me to read, to spend more time reading braille, and to make more time to read braille is reminding myself that eventually that's the only way I'm going to be able to read, and I will be reading braille all day doing whatever I do. So that really helps me to stay with it. Over.

Vileen S.: Great. Thank you, Estelle. And that's right, for beginner learners particularly Estelle's tip is so useful. You may want to do it as much as you can, and of course down the road this is what you need to keep in mind, that ultimately this is going to be my source for reading. So for beginner learners and particularly those who are losing vision step by step, progressively losing vision, this tip is very useful. Thank you. Let's take the next one.

Elyse H.: To piggyback on that, Karen mentioned in the chat to finding fun things to read will motivate yourself to read more and your braille will improve faster. She also shared a website,, might be a good place to look for some motivating things for yourself. Next-

Vileen S.: Great Karen.

Elyse H.: Next in line is Darrin, you would like to comment, Darrin?

Darrin: Yes. As you're learning braille, especially in the beginning, you're retraining your brain to be able to recognize input from a different source. At the same time you're also working on trying to get your muscles to do certain things too and there's a lot of muscle memory that's involved if you think about it from actually needing your hands to move across a page or to work together to do different things, and of course if we're reading it right.

So there's a lot of things involved, so when you think about studying every day, instead of just focusing on your lesson for 15 minutes a day four times a day, do some different kind of tasks. So for example, you might want to warm up in the morning when you're feeling pretty good, with actually doing different letters and things that are from Lit 2 or other sources, that way you might work on your lesson an hour so later. Get yourself some braille cards that you can use, you can actually use some things that you're using braille in a different way, in a way fun.

It could be that you might want to write and play or create your own games, whatever it is, break it up in different kind of activities throughout the day that'll help reinforce what you're trying to learn. Likewise too, what'll also help you to get your body moving and to be thinking about braille in a variety of different situations other than just at your desk or in your easy chair. So think about it that way, and I'd also include something fun in there as well. There's a couple of fun games that are out there, in fact, one from APH that you can get that actually has different letters that are on a card and you have to pick which one is correct and pull it out of the stack.

Darrin: So there's some things out there, and you can create some things on your own. But break it up that way, different learning styles, different ways of using braille, it'll help you down the road. Over.

Vileen S.: Great, great. Thank you so much, Darrin. And all participants, let me say that all that Darrin said comes from his own personal experience, and there is nothing better than the tips that come from personal experience. Thank you so much. Anybody else?

Elyse H.: Irene, your hand is next.

Irene: This is Irene. What I do is at this point I read a page of the braille and then I go do some housework, and if I'm studying on my lesson I come back and read another page of braille, and this is really somewhere around six to eight lines.

Vileen S.: Okay, so you mean to say that you take some intervals-

Irene: Yes.

Vileen S.: ... and that doubles your activities, and probably it's a relief to your fingers and to your brain so that when you come back and read again you feel better and you feel more motivated. Is that what you were trying to say?

Irene: That's what I'm trying to say.

Vileen S.: Terrific Irene, good thought. Thank you. Next one.

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

Vileen S.: Oh, the experienced person.

Sue B.: Yes, I do have some experience. But I was going to answer the question by suggesting that you try to focus on "This is my time for braille" because if you put it off and put it off and put it off, you don't get your braille done and then you feel guilty, and you don't want to go on that trip. Just pick a time that works in your schedule and whether it's five minutes or whether it's 15 minutes or whatever, read your braille. Then if the dog starts barking and the cat starts meowing and thousands of people come and ask you questions, then you can take your break.

But schedule in your time for braille just so that it's being accomplished every single day. And believe me, I've learned braille and I know braille, but even I get stumped when I come to some of those words that just aren't familiar with me. All of a sudden, it's like "Oh my gosh, how do I spell?" So keep that in mind, it's always a learning curve. You'll always have to keep learning. Over.

Vileen S.: Great, yes. It's a learning curve, always keep on learning, there is no end to learning braille or improving your braille proficiency. The more you practice, the better you will be. Your braille proficiency will improve day by day, certainly. But as Sue said that again as I said before, has come from her own experience and that's great input. Thank you, Susan.

Sue B.: Thank you.

Vileen S.: Okay, next one.

Elyse H.: There's another comment from Sonya in the chat. She uses multiple braille practices. She uses the Hadley braille course and also the McDuffy Braille Reader book.

Vileen S.: Oh yeah.

Elyse H.: She practices with Hadley Braille Literacy 2, and then follows up with McDuffy Practice Book.

Vileen S.: What a great idea, that's good. Yeah, McDuffy Braille Reader is yet another resource. I forgot where you get it from. I think it's available from something Illinois, but anybody who knows will tell us. But that's a good idea, to try another resource, just not stick to what you're learning from Hadley, try something else and McDuffy Braille Reader is a good tool for practicing braille. Thank you so much. Okay, anybody who knows how to get McDuffy Braille Reader somewhere or no?

Elyse H.: Sonya wrote in it's NFB out of Baltimore.

Vileen S.: Okay, good.

Elyse H.: And I'll jot that down for later. Also had another question but we'll hold on that. Allen, you have your hand up for a comment?

Allen: Yeah, just one other thing. Those who are taking Braille Literacy 1 or 2, make sure you do that practice session at the beginning.

Vileen S.: Sure.

Allen: And get that... I'm sorry, I got distracted. But that really helps to get you ready to start your reading for that particular lesson and do that every time you start reading even if you go back again a few hours later, warm your fingers up by that practice test. Over.

Vileen S.: Terrific. See? The experience tells a lot. Thank you, Allen. Okay, let's take next question.

Elyse H.: Should we go back to Susan talking about a library in Florida, where to borrow different braille books?

Vileen S.: Okay, yeah let's take that.

Elyse H.: Okay.

Vileen S.: For beginner learners you may want to wait because it takes time to get to the books and read them until you finish learning contracted braille. That is a long way to go. I'm not trying to scare you and I'm not at all discouraging anybody, but I like to be realistic and if that learner-

Susan: [crosstalk]

Vileen S.: ... if they're doing Braille Literacy 1 and 2, then you still have a long way to go. In Braille Literacy 3 Hadley course you learn how to read and write braille, but you're still learning what we call uncontracted braille which means you spell out each word. And I say spell out, for those who are new to that let me explain what I mean to say by that.

In contracted braille you do not spell out all words, but you just put some short form, and one or two letters. A combination of two braille signs or in many cases one braille sign represents a group of letters, which means you're not actually going to spell out each word but put that symbol. Most books in the world are published in contracted braille. So your goal should be to learn contracted braille, and the course at Hadley for contracted braille is called Braille Literacy 4.

Once again, I'm not trying to scare you, but Braille Literacy 4 has 29 lessons. I think it's probably 178 contractions, and then of course that includes all abbreviations as well. Then there are certain rules how to use those contractions. So it takes a little while, but thousands and thousands of people all over the world have learned this contracted braille and are using. So if you're not using, if you have not learned you don't have to worry, you don't have to be discouraged, you will make it.

But at the same time, as I said earlier you may want to keep in mind that you still have a way to go. But those who already know braille and can read books from libraries, NLS is of course the biggest source where you can get the books in braille, then there are other sources, which anybody else who knows. There are some that sell books like Seedling Publication House, that one sells books. National Braille Press, again another resource. But they also sell books, so you have to pay some price.

The National Braille Press makes braille books available at the same price at which the print books are available, and that's something great because normally the braille books cost a lot. It costs a huge amount of money for each book, so National Braille Press really helps people with vision loss to make books in braille available at the same price at which the print books are available.

Okay, let's hear further what are the other sources you can get your braille books, and particularly I think as Susan mentioned that if the books are available free to read and doesn't cost money, that's better.

Elyse H.: Rodrick, you have your hand up, you'd like to comment?

Rodrick: Yes. It was just briefly on Vileen's comment about he didn't want to scare us but there were 29 lessons in Braille Literacy 4. When I first heard that I was a little taken aback, but I'm in it now and I can see that it makes a lot of sense because every lesson from the beginning builds on the previous ones. Each course builds on the previous ones, so it makes a lot of sense and it really isn't as daunting as it may seem, the 29 lessons. It makes a lot of sense, but there're a lot of contractions.

Vileen S.: Thank you, Rodrick. Now the purpose was to put you on the realistic track.

Rodrick: Right.

Vileen S.: Thank you.

Estelle: Estelle.

Vileen S.: Yes Estelle.

Estelle: Just a quick comment that Seedlings does have quite a few children's books in uncontracted braille and they're very low priced. Reading children's books was one of the things that helped me get started in reading braille. Over.

Vileen S.: That's a good idea, and even though I'm an adult, I still enjoy reading children's books. So for those who are adults but beginner learners and want to practice braille reading children's books that are available in uncontracted braille is the way to go. Good suggestion Estelle. Thank you.

Somebody else raised their hand?

Elyse H.: How about Irene.

Irene: If you have any way of using downloaded braille, Bookshare allows you the option of downloading a book in uncontracted braille.

Vileen S.: Yeah, what you said? You said if you have a braille display?

Irene: If you have a braille display.

Vileen S.: Yes.

Irene: Bookshare.

Vileen S.: If you have braille display you have thousands of books under your fingers.

Irene: And Bookshare will let you do them in uncontracted braille, they have an option to let you.

Vileen S.: Yeah, it's a good option but you can have both. If you're a beginner learner, yes, uncontracted braille you can read using your braille display. But braille displays are very expensive, and I wonder if many people in this group have a braille display. Probably very few, probably one or two.

But good point, thank you Irene. Next one.

Elyse H.: Great, Kelly would you like to share?

Kelly: One thing I was going to say is I have a braille display, actually I've got two of them. A Handy Tech Basic Braille and an Orbit Reader Display, and I really love the Orbit Reader because I can be anywhere, I can just sit in my chair and be going through a book from Bookshare or some other source.

The other thing that I used to do, I don't really do it too much nowadays because I'm not really sure where I'd get them, but I used to order catalogs from various companies that had all sorts of technology related items and whatnot, and I would just sit back in my chair or lie on the bed or whatever and just be reading my catalogs while everyone's running around looking for a flashlight if the power goes out. That was certainly a lot of fun.

Vileen S.: Good idea. You know, while on the airplane I get that menu in braille, and just to pass time I read it. So anything that comes handy, anything that gives you more practice in reading braille, that's what you may want to go for.

Kelly: I was just going to say too even when I go to a restaurant, to hear if they've got a braille menu I'll usually ask for it. Of course I always ask for it and I can just, as you say, read that and decide what I want to order. So I think that's great that they're offering those.

Vileen S.: Yes. That's really good to have that braille option. Not every airline, but most. Good, okay next one.

Elyse H.: Karen wrote in from the chat. ACB and the NFB have newsletters available in braille. The National Braille Press also has a short article, publications in braille called Our Special and Syndicated Columnist.

Vileen S.: Very good, Karen. Karen, could you email me all information about different sources you have with the braille materials that are available? I will then post it on the website, okay? Thank you, Karen. Next one.

Elyse H.: Great, Susan you're next in line.

Susan: I just wanted to share the experience about reading braille. In the beginning when I was taking braille lessons it got interrupted because of the UEB, the curriculum needed to be created, so Hadley had discontinued 3 and 4 and I was in the middle of lesson 3 and they allowed me to finish that. But then I had to wait over a year for the curriculum to be created so I could continue to learn contracted braille. So I had not learned it yet.

What I did, I was afraid I was going to lose what I had and I needed to keep up my skills by having something to read. So I reached out to the Talking Books Library and I asked them to send me a uncontracted braille book. And I have to say I laughed at myself because the first... And I wanted a child's book, so they offered me Dr. Seuss and I laughed and said "Oh I think I'm a little beyond that. I mean those are one liners that are repetitious, over and over." I said "I think that's a little bit too elementary for me right now."

Well they sent me a child's book and I could not do it. So I had to go back and say "Okay, give me the Dr. Seuss book, I overestimated my ability." They sent me a Dr. Seuss book, and I want you to know it took me three weeks to get through that little book and it was uncontracted braille, and I had finished braille lessons to level 3. But in a matter of weeks, I mean literally weeks, my speed increased so much that before long I was in an adult book.

I said "Okay, I'm done." I went from Dr. Seuss to a little more advanced child's book and read one child's book and said "Okay, I need an adult book." From then on, I was on my way. Then the curriculum became available for me to do contracted braille I was still very fluent and better off having gone and practiced the uncontracted braille that I could just pick up and go right onto contracted level 4. Now I enjoy reading those books. I do not have a braille display and I was interested in hearing what the gentleman said, that you could relax in your easy chair and read your book using a braille display.

I did not picture that in my head. I pictured having to sit at a computer with the braille display, and I like to read in my easy chair, not be sitting at my computer. So that's interesting to me, that there is such a way to have a braille display and be able to relax and read in your easy chair. Thank you.

Vileen S.: Thank you, and say your name again? I'm sorry, I missed it.

Susan: This was Susan.

Vileen S.: Oh, Susan, oh I know you.

Susan: Yeah.

Vileen S.: Anyway, the best part of what all Susan said to us is that she utilized the interval time, the gap, to keep up with the braille proficiency and also she made sure that she didn't want to lose the skills that she had acquired by learning braille. If Hadley's not offering the next course, that doesn't stop you from keeping in touching, from continuing to practice braille, and that's what she did. That's really great.

But now of course that issue is no longer there and we have courses. Once again, Hadley has been undergoing a huge change, so that may happen. For some months enrollment in courses was stopped, but it has come back again. That's a good lesson for everybody, if you happen to encounter something that you are not able to proceed and if you have time, the best thing is to keep up with the braille proficiency with practicing, and find out ways how you can help yourself. Thanks a lot.

Okay, let's see if Elyse is with us still. Elyse?

Elyse H.: Yup. So back in the chat Sonya is wondering about-

Vileen S.: [crosstalk] in what she said.

Elyse H.: Yeah. Do you recommend to use multiple braille practices or should you just use one form of a braille practice? Talking about her Hadley Braille Literacy book and the McDuffy book, should you use multiple or just one?

Vileen S.: That's kind of a selective question. So if it's okay I'll take that question first and then I'll take yours, okay? The question, let's see, what is the question again Elyse?

Elyse H.: Should she use multiple practice forms or just stick with one?

Vileen S.: Oh okay. As far as my view is concerned, I recommend multiple practices and not sticking to one. But your individual choice may work here. If you feel you may want to stick to one and get through that and then try other sources, that's a personal preference. But other than that I may want to say that yes, try multiple sources and see how well you can do it. Anybody else have any comment about using multiple sources for practicing braille or using only one? Please raise your hand about that.

Elyse H.: We have another comment in the chat I could share. This is from Bin Aebi, he says he's joining from Nigeria. He's been participating-

Vileen S.: What's his name?

Elyse H.: Bin Aebi.

Vileen S.: Okay.

Elyse H.: I might be pronouncing that incorrectly. Joining us from Nigeria and he's been participating in this braille chat for some time. He is enrolled in Braille Literacy 1, and would like to know if the Embracing Braille chat is a good place to start as well as a beginner person who's reading braille, what is the starting point for me and how long will it take me to learn the basics in braille?

Vileen S.: All right, let me try to answer this question.

Elyse H.: Okay.

Vileen S.: But first of all I appreciate that you have joined from Nigeria and I am curious, if you have a way to speak through the system, what time it is in Nigeria.

Elyse H.: I was thinking that too, he did write in the chat so I'm not sure if he's able to do a voice.

Vileen S.: Maybe he will type. Okay, yeah at least I think a difference of 8 or 10 hours, so certainly later afternoon or evening there. It's interesting.

Bin Aebi: Hello?

Vileen S.: Yes hello, who is there?

Bin Aebi: This is Bin Aebi. I was the one on the chat.

Elyse H.: Oh hello!

Bin Aebi: Yes.

Vileen S.: Hello.

Bin Aebi: It is evening in Nigeria now.

Elyse H.: It's evening.

Vileen S.: It's evening, what time?

Bin Aebi: It is 6:00 now.

Vileen S.: Okay, very good.

Bin Aebi: Past 6:00 pm, yes.

Vileen S.: Wonderful technology, somebody from 10,000 miles away talking to us as if she's near us. That's the beauty of this technology.

Bin Aebi: Exactly.

Vileen S.: We used to have that young lady from the Philippines, Sybil, who normally doesn't miss our sessions. Okay, so the question was-

Elyse H.: What's a good starting point and how long will it take to learn the basics?

Vileen S.: Okay, a good starting point is of course Braille Literacy 1 if you want to take courses at Hadley, and Braille Literacy 1 and 2, 1 is too basic. It just teaches you only three letters. But Braille Literacy 2 covers the entire alphabet and teaches you how to read letters and words. How long it may take, that's certainly a personal efficiency and convenience and many other things. But it depends how fast you can learn, how fast you can submit your assignment, how quick your instructor grades and sends you back, all that kind of thing.

All those issues are involved, normally if you really do well you can learn the basic braille in a period of approximately two months. That's my guess if you really do well and you quickly submit your assignment and if your instructor is quick enough to respond back to you, you can learn the basics in about two months, okay? That being said let's take now Dorothy's question.

Elyse H.: Okay, go ahead Dorothy.

Dorothy B.: Hello, sorry I had to unmute me. I am having to learn to read and recognize by the dot position and alignment. I'm going to give you an example, when I learned the dot "F" meant the word father in Lit 4, the contracted braille, when I first saw that in a sentence I thought they were writing it "F-A," not realizing that what I was actually feeling was a comma. So can you help me a little bit, somebody give me some tips on the dot position and alignment?

And Vileen I know you're the specialist on this because you wrote a paper in 2017. Over.

Vileen S.: Correct, okay, the first thing Dorothy, at what level are you learning braille now? Are you enrolled in what Braille Literacy?

Dorothy B.: I'm in Lit 4, and I'm on lesson 10.

Vileen S.: Okay. That tells me a little more-

Dorothy B.: Thank you.

Vileen S.: ... what the status of your braille learning. So now when you say comma, it's not comma. This explanation makes sense for those who are learning or have learned contracted braille. Those who are doing Braille Literacy 1 and 2, it's above the level. However, those who are doing Braille Literacy 1 and 2 may want to listen to this because sooner or later you are going to encounter this situation. So even if it's not for you now, it is for you later, keep in mind and pay attention to what everybody says, including myself.

I think Dorothy you said something about comma, but actually it's not first of all a comma. It's the one dot before letter "F", and that is dot number five. So you need to first learn how to figure out what is the dot number. If the dot number two is there then you know what you could do? You may write in braille dot number two and then letter "F." Get paper out and feel the spacing. Then you will find that there is a space, there is a gap between that number two and letter "F."

So if what you are reading and if you see there isn't so much a gap as much as you saw by doing dot two and F, that means it's not dot two, it is five. Dot five, it is on the right side of the cell, it's attached. It's so much closer to the next letter because it's on the right side. So the right side dots are the closer to the next braille sign in comparison to the left side dots. That is how you can figure out that this is dot five and comma, however when you do dot five and letter "F" which is dot one, two, and four, you are likely to mix up everything.

You may read dot five and next letter dots one and two together, and that will make a different shape, different letter. It actually looks like a "J" but then you have another dot. The first and foremost thing is that you really want to learn the spacing. The distance between two braille letters is slightly bigger than between two rows of one letter in braille. So remember one thing, a braille cell fully consists of six dots, three dots on the left and three dots on the right. I call them rows. Between the two rows, so between three dots on the left and three dots on the right, there is some spacing.

There's also some spacing between two cells of braille, but there's a difference. The spacing is slightly bigger between two cells of a braille then between two rows of the same cell. If you get this much in mind and then if you would practice, it will help. So certainly the first and foremost thing is to keep in mind the spacing and see the difference, feel the difference, learn the difference, and see how it works. Between the two rows there is a lesser space or distance than between the two cells of a braille.

If you would learn that, practice that, and it comes with practice, you know? You shouldn't feel scared when I say so much, it may be going over the heads of many people, those who are beginner learners, but no, it will come. It will come. So once you learn the spacing then you will be able to identify dots and the next thing you have were dot position. So when you see that one dot on the left of letter "F" for father, if one dot aligns with the middle dot of the next letter that means it is a middle dot on the right side. Now the middle dot on the right side is dot number five.

For us to be able to remember, remember it's dot five and then letter "F." Still you may want to read my handout which I probably emailed to you Dorothy, and study that. I think there were two hands raised so I will take that. We have almost reached the end of the session, but not a problem, we will extend it for a few minutes. If you feel that you still want to discuss more because the spacing issue is really extremely important and slightly complicated for many people I wouldn't mind repeating, I wouldn't mind saying it again in our next session when our time comes.

Okay, let's see, anybody else has some comment about this spacing issue?

Elyse H.: Rodrick, your hand is up. Do you have a comment about this?

Rodrick: Yes I do. This is Rodrick, I think Dorothy Brown was talking about a comma on the other side from the dot five. That would be dot two, as you were mentioning Vileen about the spacing. That could be confused with an "A" because "A" would be a dot one, would be right next to the top dot of the "F."

Vileen S.: That's the question of dot alignment. You may want to see the-

Rodrick: That is something that you mentioned, I was just adding to that. And of course the spacing too, doesn't it? Dot alignment and spacing are both important to-

Vileen S.: Both are equally important, yes. That's for sure. All right, let's take the next question. Thank you.

Elyse H.: Great. We have a hand, the number starts in 850, what's your name please?

Annely: This is Annely.

Vileen: Oh Annely! Have you been here?

Annely: Yes I have.

Vileen S.: Okay good.

Annely: I also wanted to mention to avoid scrubbing. For those who don't know what scrubbing is, it's moving the finger up and down on the cell. I have noticed that tends to cause disorientation in knowing where the dot positions are. You've got to keep that finger moving horizontally and not vertically on the dots because with my own practice just experimenting what happens, because I don't scrub, I'm a long-time braille reader. But I've noticed when I move my finger up and down it makes the dots go somewhere else and not where they are. Over.

Vileen S.: Oh, thank you. Yes, scrubbing and rubbing are prohibited. You should not rub, you should not scrub. That's not the way you want to learn braille. Feel the dots. If you still do not recognize, do not give up. Move it, come back, but do not scrub. Yes, thank you Annely.

Alright, thank you so much, let me wrap up the session now. We passed the time but I'm happy that I could cover a good distance asking, answering different questions, and if you think that your question hasn't been covered enough feel free to ask again when the next chance comes. I do not want to disappoint anybody and that's not my purpose at all. So I thank you everybody for joining the session today. Bye now.