Since its introduction over 200 years ago, there have been many misconceptions about Braille, including that it can take years to learn and that it is exclusively a language for the blind. In fact, neither is true. Braille is not a language, rather it is a writing system that uses combinations of raised dots to spell letters and numbers and is used by both blind people and those with varying levels vision loss to help them navigate life.
February is Low Vision Awareness Month.
Hadley, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is the national leader in distance and online learning for adults with visual impairments in all 50 states and more than 100 countries, and is the largest educator in braille to the world. Founded in 1920 as a correspondence school offering braille lessons by mail, Hadley today offers workshops on hundreds of topics and connects users to live experts through its new learning center, Hadley.edu , which was built on months of research and based on the needs, wants and desires of visually impaired adults. All at no cost.
Hadley recently launched Braille for Everyday Use, an interactive workshop series that includes a workbook mailed to users’ homes and accompanying audio instructions available by phone or online.
Thanks to advances in technology and assistive devices, many people living with vision loss can now read documents and browse the Internet. Screen reader software makes computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices accessible. Yet more and more people with vision loss are embracing braille for its ease and practicability in daily routines, including identifying buttons in an elevator, labeling a pill bottle, or determining public toilets reserved for men or women.
Mark Andrews, from Connecticut, was a visual artist until autoimmune retinopathy, a disease that attacks proteins in the retina, caused his eyesight to deteriorate. Andrews turned to Hadley to learn Braille to help him navigate in public and get around his home.
“Braille seemed complicated and inaccessible to me,” Andrews said. “Learning it from Hadley, I’ve never tried anything where I felt so good from the start.”
To register for Hadley’s free Everyday Braille Workshop Series, call 1-800-323-4238 or order online. For more information on Hadley’s range of online and distance learning courses, workshops, live discussion groups and podcasts, visit: www.hadley.edu