Imagine that you could not read your favorite books. I love books. I’ve always loved books, books are my lifeblood. They are something I cannot shake from my existence. I cannot imagine life without having read all the Children’s literature I could have read. I read everything from the Gingerbread Man, Is Your Mama a Llama?, all of the books in the series known as the Baby-Sitter’s Club, so many more. Guess what? It has been a huge problem lately because I have not touched a Braille cell in a while, and you know how I feel? Sluggish, anxious, like I should have had a heart attack when my Apex broke its Kernel whatever. Now, I have the greatest news to report, and this could be huge!!!!!!
Right now, as it stands in AMerica, about 90% or more blind kids are not fully literate or functionally literate people at all. The largest problem we face as blind people is that “Braille is expensive” says one person or “The textbooks won’t come in Braille or on time” may say another. A third may pout and say, “But there’s computer speech programs.” Well, I have a word for this, and though it is colorful, it’s the best word here because Braille rules and you know it does. To the teachers who think Braille is expensive and does not serve a purpose, to the ones who say that speech synthesized shit is better than Braille, here’s my word: bullshit. Don’t pull out the deck of EZ See Playing Cards, folks, that is not a lie. All this is about to be called bullshit because guess what? We have finally gotten the cost of Braille down to $500! For a display, this is enormous.
The company called Transforming Braille Group has given us a great opportunity. They teamed up with Orbit Research, the makers of calculators for all we knew, and they came up with the Orbit Reader 20 cell display due out in October. Transforming Braille group’s not sure it knows what it’s doing, though.
Imagine what huge leaps and bounds this invention will do for us. Let’s reverse the digits in that 90% illiteracy rate among American blind children, and go with only 9%. This tiny number could be defined as cognitively impaired people who truly cannot read because they are unable to process the information.The 91% literacy rate would be about the majority of children who just have to learn Braille. Now, Braille doesn’t have to be so expensive, and one more thing, no more bulky textbooks. Think about it.
With your new Braille displays, students will be able to read Braille and not carry a large hulking bag of books at all, including for elementary school. With recent cases of rucksack palsy and other problems among the general population with backpacks laden with books, this is a huge plus. Until this time, the textbook on time rate was incredibly slow, so it was understandable that teachers could say that Braille books are nonexistent or not practical. But with the now almost ready Orbit Reader 20, you may never hear that old story of textbook late times again. Imagine the life of a blind person in America changed by this invention.
One year at four, the blind student is first introduced to Braille, small books, pattern books, okay. But then, she goes to a school to learn to read. While reading, she learns contracted UEB Braille and other forms of Braille, but then she says she loves books. A few generations ago and up to this point, our little blind student, now six or seven, would be late on textbooks. However, with her new Orbit Reader and an SD card containing the textbook material, she will be able to succeed in school above her classmates, all because of her own effort. By ten, she will learn math skills, and again, no more late textbooks. Her shoulders will not stop being the broad and set things they should be, thanks to a loads lighter load, no pun intended. The girl then enters high school, and again, no late textbooks and she may be able to take tests on a pc computer with her Orbit display hooked up.
Imagine being the same girl in Lesotho. In African countries where literacy is especially low, it is even more important that blind children learn to read a simple book at the appropriate age group. The little girl in my example will have the same thing, but for this example, she being in Lesotho, Ethiopia, South Africa, and other countries whose literacy is questionably low and who feel that blind children come last, the new Orbit Reader will literally wipe that smile off the parents’ faces when they think it okay not to allow the girl to be literate. The question here is how to get Braille into the hands of blind children everywhere, regardless of what country they’re in.
Japanese children may not have many problems getting this in their hands, as Japan’s technological advances are even more so than America’s. Sad, right? Can somebody please tell me why!
But what about children in Pakistan or Afghanistan? Both countries censor books, ban certain music in places, and harbor extreme Islam in other spots such as the current Swat Valley. While we managed to throw a bunch of those folks out, it is still questionable and unsafe for girls to go to school, and boys as well. I have a message for Pakistani and Afghan parents considering your blind children. Send both sons and daughters to school, and let them feel the dots on the Orbit Reader themselves. They will soon be able to read better than you will. Perhaps a demo with Malala is in order? She doesn’t know what’s happened, and books are so cool they just make you want to read them over again.
Imagine for a moment what it could have been like for me had this happened earlier. But think. The Giver by Lois Lowry, not only is it a favorite piece of literature for me, it is also a bulky single volume of Braille that spans about a foot or more wide. It’s about 11×11 paper and about four inches thick. Do you think I carry this now? With the new display, I will no longer need to remember! Books are almost a thing of the past replaced by tablets and computer technology, but the prize of literacy will never really be replaced. Malala herself reads a tablet.
While it is clearly impossible to truly predict the results of the new Braille display’s reach and lasting impact, I’m predicting that blind children all over the world will soon be able to read Braille in any language, and learn math, and we will take over the world. We will take the sighted bullshit by its horns. And if anyone becomes blind, it will be a thousand times nicer to teach that person Braille. Who wants a Braille class with me now? Braille anyone?