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It Is What It Is #SocialDistancing #SoCS

Spring has arrived.

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As it stands, we
welcome
our new reality, even as we resist what that means.

I listen to two US sources, along with the national news here in Canada too.

I’ve been listening to Michael Moore and his podcast since before Christmas, when his main goal was to fight to get #45 out of office. It’s become something else now that most of us couldn’t have seen coming.

I’ve been listening to Rachel Maddow and in her most recent episode, she ended the show by announcing the death of an NBC colleague who lost his life to covid-19 and she lost control and became choked up as she said it.

Most of us aren’t that close to this yet, but who knows what the next weeks and months could bring upon us all.

Panic. Don’t panic. Panic. Don’t panic.

I am one who learned about this coronavirus with a slow dawning, a realization that’s just now beginning to scare me. It was only end of January that I was still relatively oblivious and planning an adventure to walk the Thames River Path in England. This new reality hit me soon after.

Since then, I’ve been around some people, but I now feel the instinct to totally isolate from all people.

Every time I send someone out to run an errand for me, they could potentially pick up this virus themselves. Should I stop this, for their sakes and mine?

I get paranoid with germs (for years) and now. Where are they? How close by are they? Which surface are they living on?

I’ve been cushioned here in my town, in my county, but reality inches ever nearer. I listen to accounts from doctors and nurses who are already seeing emergency rooms and ICU’s full of the sick, numbers then reported on the nightly news and 24/7 online.

I take deep breaths, sitting here and when I step outside, the now spring air streaming into my lungs as I go out with my dog.

I went for a walk, fell and twisted my ankle and skinned my knee, but I got back up again and kept walking. I wanted to feel myself, moving through the world, grateful I am still well.

I went to a medical appointment and it was a breeze compared to how it usually is. The doctor and his pain clinic moved out of the hospital setting and into a recently abandoned medical practise next door. I was in and out, no waiting in a waiting room with a dozen other people, but straight in to the room, after I’d been given a mask to wear. I haven’t worn one since being on dialysis back in the late 90’s.

I sanitized my hands and got my nerve block injections for my headaches, that I’ve been receiving for almost a year now.

I questioned whether I should have gone there, gone out at all, but things moved along so quickly because many patients did decide to cancel.

I worry for my parents. They aren’t in the highest risk group, but they are over sixty.

I worry about my sister, doing her work in the midst of this time of year which is tax season, ever so slightly delayed like school and everything else.

I worry for my brother-in-law who works in a factory.

I worry about my older brother who needs to go into work to support his family.

I worry for my younger brother who had a kidney transplant in 2013 and who has had other medical issues, before and since then. He and I are both immunosuppressed, not currently on dialysis or a cancer patient receiving chemotherapy, but I don’t know how this new strain of virus might act if either one of us were to catch it. I’ve never had pneumonia and the idea of basically drowning when the lungs are overloaded is terrifying.

I worry for my sister who has asthma and her husband who is a type one diabetic, who just recently recovered from mono. They have two young children and I’m only thankful that my nieces and nephews are at much lower risk of contracting this.

My father and mother work still, front line workers really, as she works in a group home and taking care of vulnerable people and he takes people in wheelchairs where they need to go in his specialized cab.

Here in Canada we have a wonderful healthcare system, but we see what’s happening in Italy and we must learn all we can. I feel better sometimes, most of the time, hearing the news here in Canada and feeling I’m safest here when compared to anywhere else, but things can keep getting worse with every case reported and all the ones that aren’t quite yet.

This is not at all how I saw 2020 playing out.

I had a friend who was traveling and another who’s about to. I can’t do much about that, but I still worry. So many who would have not gone and those still trying to get back home.

I have an old friend, from childhood, who moved to Ireland for medical school and is now a doctor there. I don’t know how much risk she’s at since all this, but I keep track of the news of this virus out of that country too.

I can’t control any of this and the last thing I wanted to do was see this happening, but we’ve been warned of a possible pandemic to come. Well it’s here, sweeping across the globe bringing with it waves of destruction and instability.

I worry about people’s jobs and the economy that I understand little about. I studied history and the Great Depression in the 1930’s. I learned about the Spanish flu of 1918 and how that washed over humanity during that time. We’ve come far with medical knowledge and still we are left battered by something so tiny, invisible and deadly in many cases, but people think it’s like any other flu season we’ve known in our lifetime.

I know it may be petty, but I’ve started calling #45 covid-45 because of his unique ability to be cruel and ignorant and incompetent at a time when the whole world needs effective leaders who also care, even just a little.

I like to listen to flocks of birds out my window and above my head. They fly by and I wish I could fly too.

Our winter was mild and yet I’m pleased to feel spring is in the air. I am finding things to bring me a few moments of peace because I know we’re at war, World War III if you want to call it that, but it’s a battle raging on in nearly all places now. It is just now making it to the northern parts of Canada and in our territories. It’s on islands that want to keep it from swamping their systems. The border between Canada and the US and that between them and Mexico, closed to all but essential trade.

Europe is being ravaged by it and it will get into refugee camps and already war torn regions, places across the African continent and in bustling cities where social distancing isn’t a thing.

For humans, in most cultures, having to stop shaking hands or hugging or kissing of cheeks is so difficult to do. Whereas I’m not struggling with that as much as I am to not touch my own face a thousand times a day.

People can’t believe they are in the position, for the first time, of being prevented from travel to their heart’s desire and content. They, we’ve, I’ve always had that option of traveling and the freedom of choice. Yet, when I hear people complaining that they are bored and dreaming of the moment they’re told it’s safe to do so again, I want to scream. I don’t know why, as I’m among them, but I know we’ve all been spoiled when air travel is so common and wanderlust is a thing.

I have multiple rolls of toilet paper here still and am not letting that stress me out, but I don’t like what I’m seeing of people out in grocery stores. I go back and forth between feelings of panic and calm, though I am never sure what I’m panicking about. I can’t pinpoint anything for sure in my buzzing brain.

I can’t concentrate on writing the things I’d planned on writing so far this year. I can’t manage anything more than stream of consciousness writing at the moment.

My dreams are vivid and my waking hours are spent trying not to bombard my head and heart with opinions and facts and statistics.

This is a numbers game, as the saying goes, but this time this is no game we’re playing. I’m no good at numbers games at the best of times.

People who are already greedy or selfish will only look for ways to enrich themselves in this, all while I know this virus can take hold in any one of us, doing as much or as little damage as it sees fit.

People are afraid and in denial as a form of self preservation, but the world is also populated by resilience and brilliant minds already at work.

I’m getting by on the stories that keep coming out, stories of courage from front line workers and from communities coming together to pick up groceries and medications for those who can’t.

We’re depending on our medical professionals and our food delivery drivers and those in the factories and the plants, but they have families and bodies that are vulnerable to getting sick.

I am used to hiding away in my own solitude and I don’t want to start worrying, any time I’m around another person, but maybe now is the time to isolate from friends for sure and now even family members.

I don’t know what to think.

So we are welcoming spring and wondering what’s to come. Some say we’re making more of this than is necessary, like young people who celebrated spring break and think they’re invincible. None of us are invincible.

We humans have our social media now and can stay in touch with loved ones and we should. We’re not used to being constricted in our movements and in our socializing. We’re told to stay in our homes, except for those necessities of life, but we can’t handle being cooped up for long.

Will this last weeks or months or more? We hate to think it could. Loneliness even though we can connect easier than any period in history.

I don’t know where I’m going with all this. I take chunks of time off of Facebook and I watch a show from my childhood. I can recall difficult times in my past and how I made it through and that helps, but this is a new one on me.

I think of my indoor cat now and what his life consists of. Human beings won’t stand for that for long, but I’ve seen some beautiful examples of people in places like Italy and Spain making the best of these circumstances. Each of us and our governments are dealing with this in stages, but sometimes swift measures are necessary ones.

I’m trying to wait this out, to ride it out, but I don’t know what to expect and I know emotions are running high.

I envy the innocence of the children in my life right now, but I’m now afraid to be around them, around anyone. I hate that feeling.

How are all of you coping with all this? I know I’m not alone and neither are you.

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Culture-Hacking and Seeing the World Differently #Culture-Hacking #Podcast

I came across a woman, near the end of last year, who had a strong message in her own story. I reached out to see if she might consider me as one of the first guests on her show:

Episode 2 – “Seeing the World Differently”

On this episode we talk about gratitude and when to speak up. I firmly believe we must share our stories with one another and be proud of the life we’ve lived.

So thank you
twitter daniella young
for this opportunity.

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Covering My Bases #WeRemember #JusJoJan

Okay, so I am nearing the end of this
Just Jot It January
2020 thing.

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This weekend, instead of writing for #JusJoJan, I was too
busy,
with the planning and the thinking and the dreaming.

Trying not to get too far ahead of myself on life, with recent developments, I zoned out a little here recently.

Thanks,
Saumya,
for this one.

I was making a starting, basic plan for an adventure I’m looking to have later this year. It was distracting, as I try not to get my hopes up too high. I want to make a statement with this one!

I wish to
dazzle
the world with this one.

I long to sparkle, to shine, but not me for my sake. I desire to take a chance, take the leap, assuming upcoming bloodwork doesn’t threaten to ruin everything I’m planning before it even has a chance of going ahead.

I want to be always a surprise and a voice for change. I may surprise in my methods of achieving all this, to some, but the main one I’m looking to surprise is myself…and spectacularly!

Thanks,
Debbie,
for this glittery prompt word.

This date always gets me down, in a way, to more of a melancholic level. I think if it, 2020 being seventy-five years since the freeing of Auschwitz concentration camps.

I know this is the day to celebrate, but it’s such a sombre date, I can’t help feeling a bit blah.

It reminds me of too many things, makes me think too many dark thoughts, though I know there’s a more positive tone to strike here too.

And, so since I am working with what I’ve got, what I’ve got is me. Nobody else can live my life for me, I should learn to count on me more because I’m here now and I’m grateful for that, and then to be gracious to all who agree to join in on the journey, somewhere along that way.

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I Am No Rarity #JusJoJan

I took yesterday off, from this
Just Jot It January #JusJoJan
challenge, but there remains a lot to do.

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I had an
experience
yesterday, a speaking invitation to something called
PROBUS.

This was a chance to be a guest speaker for a room of retired professional women. I wasn’t just there to speak about my life as a sideshow of what’s known as inspiration porn, meaning a story of my disability that does nothing to truly educate, challenges preconceived notions and to show them what has been kept too well a hidden secret up until now.

I wanted to talk to the ladies about my life, my blindness sure, but of some of the things I’ve accomplished. I made the theme fear and travel and they were amazed I traveled to Mexico alone, to attend a writing workshop in 2017. Sure, many sighted people are amazed I can dress myself let alone travel by myself.

The point is that there are ways to know what I’m wearing and how I get to my gate to fly somewhere. I don’t do it without practice and, sometimes, without assistance.

I talked about my fears and the fears my parents had when they first learned I was blind. I talked about my loss of sight over the years and how I faced my fear of rejection to start this blog and share more of my writing with the wider world. I talked about how to face the fears and push passed them, while they keep on coming.

I impressed them, all kinds of them coming up to me after to shake my hand and tell me to keep it all up.

I couldn’t hope to change every mind about the capabilities of blind people, but maybe I enlightened some of them so that they will realize that I am not such a rarity, that many blind people live happy and active lives.

There is much work to do, why I’ve become involved with the
Canadian Federation of the Blind
to, in many cases, fight back against society’s fears of blindness and what it’s really like to live with it.

I want to improve opportunities for my own life and for those born blind or who go blind later in life. It isn’t a black hole of hopelessness.

The government could be doing a lot more to help. If they listened more and realized it is a good investment to make into disability communities like that of the blind, that given the right kinds of opportunities and supports and training, we can give back to society like we want, like anyone else might do.

Our challenge is to make blind people, struggling to know their options and worth and opportunities, understand and believe that they can live the life they want.

I have been to a yearly convention for the CFB in Canada for the last two years and to one in the US in 2018. I wish I had more money for travel because it isn’t only a chance to do that, but it’s a chance to gather together and share with one another and boost each other in our lives all the rest of the year. I face my fears by traveling, again and again and again, and to put myself squarely in a situation where I am anxious and uncomfortable, a large crowd or group of people.

The experiences I’ve had since I realized my power to make changes through advocacy with like-minded blind people have been some of the best of my entire life and I’ve met people that inspire me for those times when I do feel like it’s all too much and I’d like to give up all together.

It’s often stressful because there’s more work to do than those of us willing to pitch in with our own unique talents and skills, but it’s a brand new year here and I know I’ll keep busy, whatever happens. Life is rarely ever boring for long.

Thanks,
Dan,
for this prompt that I had a lot to speak on. My life has been a rich tapestry of meaningful and impactful experiences for sure.

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Gloria In Handcuffs Signing The Constitution #JusJoJan

People are protesting, challenging their governments, and more.

And here I am.

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I can come here and I can
publish
my feelings and my fears for our world.

I am approaching my six year anniversary with this blog next month and I can speak my mind in Canada and share it with anyone who comes here. I am not protesting for the world to see on screen, like Gloria Steinem or Jane Fonda are doing, both these high profile women and both in their eighties now. Instead, I keep writing it all down and I don’t quit as times grow tough.

I have the freedom to write about climate change or disability rights as civil rights or about misogyny and the men who’ve run this world long enough and brought us to where we are today. I can say the things I’m drawn to say and publish without waiting for some mighty publisher to look my way.

I can’t control what the government does or what other governments around the world do, but I can write and speak my mind and for this I’m grateful.

Thank you,
Ritu,
for this prompt word, a favourite of mine.

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White and Blue and Cinnamon Too #Synaesthesia #BlueJanuary #SnowDays #JusJoJan

The mall was pleasantly less crowded on this early January day, I spent it out browsing its many stores with a friend visiting from Ireland, and the sun made an appearance; a win win of a day for me I gotta say.

David’s Tea, The Dollar Store (don’t know if it’s actually called that anymore), lunch at the foodcourt and all the while that pleasant scent of cinnamon buns in the air; that was my day – here’s what’s been on my mind.

There’s the
possibility
of a snow day, on any given week, most weeks here in Canada every January.

This brings children joy all around this country, while my friend’s daughter was dying to see the snow Canada promises. No snow days for her in her Irish home.

Canadian kids can sometimes get what feels like countless days off from school every winter. Others aren’t so thrilled about how January seems to stretch out, what seems like indefinitely, because they can’t seem to see beyond these somewhat blue thirty-one days, so soon after the champaign cork popped and the new year was rung in.

Once the memory of a snow day fades and adulthood overtakes, a snow day for schoolchildren is simply the snow the adult must go out super early before work to scrape from the car.

The things that seem hard at one age, school assignments and least favourite subjects, these are replaced with deadlines and annoying coworkers, but it’s more than work stress that’s getting to many at this time of the year and no day off or work perk is going to thrill like it might otherwise have done.

It’s all relative.

There are those usual headaches if you’ve grown up here, lived here, and some thrills too, depending on what age you are.

I try to look ahead, even as January drags on into February and the snow persists. It isn’t the snow that bothers me so much. I feel refreshed by it, invigorated by it almost, but the month of January (while still holding the thrill of unknown possibilities to come in the remaining months of the year, feels like a blue month to me.

My synaesthesia colours January as blue in my head. I see it, even if nothing else, but it hurts me to see how many feel that blueness deep inside. I love the colour blue, but it means depression to so many I know and love and have known and loved. I see it in lots of places I look.

While the future is likely to bring new periods of colour and feeling and hope, that isn’t so easy to notice whilst in the middle of the month of January.

I wish I could make it all better for those people. I wish I could hug them and reassure them everything will work out, but while I can predict a number of possible outcomes for anyone of us, I can’t make them believe anything in the first month of a new year, not when their environment tells them the darkest days of a wintery January might never ever lift the cares and worries from their shoulders.

I wish, for so many who deal with a blue January, every day could be like a first snowfall for a visiting Irish child: pure joy in all that white stuff falling from the sky to cover the ground in a blanket of delight.

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Thanks,
Jill,
for all the possibilities this prompt offers for things to jot down our thoughts on.

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A World On Fire, #JusJoJan #SoCS

A quiet Saturday night in Canada, but
Wow
to what’s going on on the other side of the world from here.

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And to the news between the US and Iran. Wow!

I say it as an exclamation a lot, to myself, because it feels super redundant to utter out loud to anyone within earshot.

I love this time of year in my country, snow or no snow, because I like being cozy inside and then, when I step out my door, to feel the fresh air, so cold. I love the stillest days of winter most of all, those still, silent nights those of which songs have been named.

I can’t imagine what Australia is dealing with right now because I’ve never had to experience such a thing. I remember watching the news when western Canada was dealing with terrible wildfires, hearing people in California speaking of it on Facebook. I can’t imagine even having to deal with smoke clouding the air and choking my lungs and burning my eyes. Having to outrun flames sounds nightmarish.

Over twenty lives lost there now, millions of animals and wildlife perishing so far, and yet climate change denial is still rampant. Wow, really?

I “WOW” this more than anything because, even if you don’t believe things are as bad as all that, at least let situations like the one in Australia now help you see that we can and should do something. Even if we choose to not put the blame all on our shoulders, fine, but at least we can do something, in the smallest belief it could help dangerous and devastating situations like wildfires take less of a toll. Why not? What’s the harm?

We frame things as serious, as serious as it often is, in the hopes that people will, you know…take it seriously. Then, we’re crying wolf or portraying ourselves as Chicken Littles. The sky’s not falling, okay, but it is smoky in places. If we talk so serious all the time, people will tune the warnings out entirely we’re warned, but then what does that leave us all with in terms of options to address what’s making the news in the first place?

So we have to sit with the realization of all those poor creatures, not understanding what’s going on, unless somehow instinctively. I sit here, in the northern hemisphere and January cold, thinking of all those poor animals, my two animals safely here with me.

Canadian firefighters and those from other countries have gone to help. What are the politicians doing?

Are there not enough natural events occurring these days for our world to contend with that humans have to go and create more havoc with their own real life choices? What is it with clueless, greedy, selfish, brutal men running the world, making serious decisions that will impact so many, creating an environment of fear and anxiety? What if we let women run the world, just for a little while, to see if things might turn around? What’s the harm in giving it a try? All men, stand down!

I saw how serious news stories were handled on the ground and up close when they involved New Zealand recently, (mass shootings and volcano eruption) by their PM, a woman. I wish there were more of her.

I don’t generally like to generalize, but I’m tired of the anxieties. If it’s this way, this greatly weighing on my mind and heart, I shudder to think of what it’s like for anyone immediately, directly effected in in the path of destruction, whether natural weather and climate or manmade disasters in progress.

I say my wow’s and my huh’s? I say it till I grow weary of saying it. I long to be a child again, not to block out news by simply not seeking it out because that feels irresponsible, but to be a kid again and simply not grasping the significance of all these things going on.

Oh two-year-old Mya my dearest one, how I envy your child’s cluelessness, in great contrast to that cluelessness I spoke of above from adults who should know better.

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TToT: For Those Rookies I Love and Remembering To Breathe #PeaSeason #JustBreathe #10Thankful

I spend a lot of time being attracted to songs with messages about remembering to breathe. I do it, of course, and I’m thankful I can. Still, I’m most thankful for music and reminders of such a thing.

Tough year so far, ups and downs, but if it weren’t for a few familiar favourites about this time of year, I would be totally lost.

I haven’t done one of these in months. It’s partly from the tough year and partially because the whole process of this
Ten Things of Thankful
thing is different now than it once was.

Yet, I am back and trying to fill out this middle of 2019 with a few items of gratitude and this is the place to do that.

I am thankful for July being the month for fresh peas.

They’re so fresh tasting, sweet yet healthy. I am thankful for the whole podding process that I am expert in after so many seasons of practice. It’s so sweet to me that my niece and nephew love peas too. I don’t even mind doing the podding for them, especially, and even the sharing of the final product. If I’m going to share my favourite fresh vegetable with anyone, it’d be those two. I try not to feel affronted when the two-year-old takes too many in a handful or one or two or a few more are dropped. (Common mistake for a rookie.)

I’m thankful for new experiences for those I love most. I can stand a difficult time of it for myself a little easier if I know someone else I care about is having a memorable time of a summer.

I’m thankful for the return to regular summer days amongst the really humid days.

There’s a big difference between when the sun is hot but the air is still fresh, with a lovely breeze and those days when it’s a sauna in the very air I need to breathe.

And, of course, I’m thankful for AC because, though I know I am spoiled in that, I am grateful I don’t have to tough it out.

Such heat and humidity is one of the main triggers I’ve so far discovered with my pain and headaches and I am glad I have another option.

I’m thankful we’re getting some more exposure for our show from a media source like
Accessible Media Inc.
with a feature on their TV network.

Check out Outlook on AMI This Week.

This was four months in the making.

The media are maddening in many instances, but some cases prove the opposite of that.

So, soon we say goodbye to July and summer half over. That may anger some, but I am looking forward to September.

I can’t say when I’ll be back here, but I’m thankful for my blog, always.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0r1AJMK79g

I need those reminders to breathe, between the other lyrics that get me through, especially with the headlines in places all over the world today.

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IF BRAILLE WERE PRINT #Braille #Literacy #Equality

If Braille Were Print by Erin Jepsen

Abi Jepsen uses a BrailleNote Apex.From the Editor: Erin Jepsen is a low-vision homeschooling mother of four elementary-age children, one blind, one low vision, and two sighted. She is passionate about education for all kids and about teaching Braille. She and her family live in Idaho.

Chatting with a friend today about a refreshable Braille display got me thinking again about the absurdities that I’ve seen firsthand in my daughter’s classes. I’ve seen a silly attitude about Braille in both a local public school and in a state virtual academy. I’ve also heard about it from friends around the country who support one another online.

This problem comes, I think, from society’s general perception that Braille is complicated, difficult, and specialized. My daughter’s TVIs work endlessly to provide peer enrichment, to normalize Braille, to minimize errors, and to add Braille in spaces within the school. I have tried to do the same at home. Still, in spite of our best efforts, misperceptions remain in attitudes about Braille and print.

To address some of these misperceptions for the non-Braille-reading public, I want to try an experiment. I want to reframe some of the things that students commonly hear when they are being taught Braille by imagining that they are being said to a sighted print reader. I’d like to say these things about the reading method that nearly everyone in my area uses: English print.

The Challenges of Print

Imagine a typical first- or second-grader of average intelligence who is learning to read. Keep in mind the material this learner will need to read in eighth grade. In twelfth grade. In college. On the job. Running a household.

1. It makes sense that you’re having a hard time with this. It is hard to learn print.

As your hypothetical classroom teacher, I don’t actually read this print stuff. Your aide took a two-week training course, and we have a reference chart here, but I really don’t know how print works. It just looks like a bunch of squiggles on the paper. It uses a round symbol for both a zero and the letter o, and I’m not sure how to tell you which one is which. There is also special shorthand stuff, like spelling with as w/, and I don’t know how to teach you all that.

Reading a book with writing on both sides of the page is hard for me. It doesn’t matter that it’s normal for you; I say it’s hard, because for me, it is.

You have a special print teacher, and you’ll see her for an hour or two per week. Surely that’s all the extra help you’ll need.

2. I’m not aware of any techniques for reading print at a usable speed.

As far as I know, print readers only read one letter at a time. I don’t know any adults who read printed books. I saw someone do it once on TV, and it looked like magic. I’ve heard that people who read print well are either geniuses or flukes.

3. I’m sorry, but your book is loaded with typos.

The books we’re giving you were transcribed by unqualified volunteers, so there are at least two typos or misprints or misspelled words for every thirty words. Just remember you’re lucky to have print books at all.

Every other kid in your class gets information from illustrations, but we’re going to skip those for you. They’re cute, but probably they’re not important.

4. Technology, schmechnology!

First of all, nobody like you uses computers or knows how to type at your age. You have plenty of time to learn that stuff later. Your job someday probably won’t require a computer. If it does, someone can give you a quick training course. For now, we’re going to print your books using a dot-matrix printer. The school bought it in 1989 for our last print reader, and they don’t want to buy anything new.

We’re going to get you a special display screen, though. It hooks up to an iPad. It displays three words per screen. To get to the next screen, you just press this little button over here. Cool, right?

5. Reading is overrated.

Nobody these days needs to read print or write with a pencil anyway. You can just listen to audiobooks. It’s a lot less work than reading, and you can dictate anything you want to write. Technology is amazing these days for people like you.

6. Nobody else reads the way you read.

In your school, no one besides you reads print. The teachers don’t read it. Your friends don’t read it. There is no print displayed around the halls, on the classroom walls, or in the lunchroom. Everybody reads, but nobody reads English print. Nobody here can read what you write, and nobody can write to you. Well, one of your friends learned to write to you. He thinks print is a cool secret code.

There’s a sign in print by the bathroom. You say it actually says “Aathroox?”

We keep reminding you to be grateful for your printed books. The other students have thousands of books in whatever they read, and no one tells them to be grateful. But you should be grateful for the twelve books that you have. Don’t forget, people went to a lot of trouble to get them for you.

You didn’t do very well on the reading test last week. Your special print teacher says it was written like this: %Bgoat %Bpig %Bhorse %Bduck. I don’t read print, so I don’t know how it looks to you. I just grade your test the best I can.

7. You will get your books late. Always.

The school ordered the wrong reading book from the supplier, so your book is the first-grade version, not the second-grade version. It’s double-spaced and uses easy vocabulary, but that’s okay for you. Your life is challenging enough already, just learning to read print. You have to learn all those curves and squiggles. The capital letters are different shapes, and there are different fonts, too. You have to learn five different shapes just for the letter A. That’s hard! You don’t need challenging vocabulary, too.

You’re falling behind your class? Don’t worry. You have a lot on your plate.

Your math book is still at the translator’s shop. They say it will be here in seven months. Everyone else is going to use a math book during the next seven months, but I’ll just read your math out loud to you.

Don’t worry about learning to read numbers! When you get your math book, you can read the numbers all you want! Be grateful you’re getting a math book in print.

8. Of course you’re behind.

Kids like you, print readers of average intelligence, are always behind.

Always.

In fact, you’ll likely graduate from high school with about a fourth-grade reading level. It can’t be helped. It’s okay, though, because kids like you don’t usually want to have a career. People who read print usually get jobs sorting stuff at places like Goodwill. They pay you about $2 an hour, but you won’t notice that because of the math thing.

9. Print is just so cool!!

Print looks cool! I see it here and there, like on elevators, and it’s just so neat. It’s all swoopy and round, and I like to look at it. People like you must be really special to read it. I can’t believe you can just walk up to a sign with words printed on it and boom! read what it says.

Kids who read print are so beautiful and special. They open their printed books and just go for it. Unbelievable!

10. I love the way you write print, too.

I’ve watched you write print. You make these marks on paper, and you actually know what they say. That special tool you use, what’s it called? A pencil? It’s so neat! It writes print, just like that!

I’ve seen you type on a special keyboard. It makes print, too, but it disturbs the class with the clicking noise, so I wish you wouldn’t use it. You can use it someday when you’re grown up, but not in class, okay? Just tell one of the adults what you want to write, and we’ll do it for you. We’ll even spell it right for you. You can practice spelling words on your special spelling tests in your special writing room on Fridays.

The Print Reader’s Experience

Dear Reader, what do you think? Do you think a kid is going to learn to read in that atmosphere, with those expectations and that sort of encouragement? With that amount of support and practice?

Any TVI or homeschool mom who has tried to even things out for a Braille reader knows exactly what I’m talking about.

What do print-reading kids typically experience in school? Let’s take a look.

1. Your teacher knows English.

If you are an English speaker, your teacher knows the language in which you’re reading and writing. She or he may even know Spanish or Chinese or Dutch. She can use all the tools you are expected to use. If she can’t, she is not deemed qualified to teach.

2. Your teacher has books.

Books in print arrive in the classroom on time before the school year begins. In nearly every school in the country, there are books for every kid in the class. The books don’t come late. The teacher reads them and shows you how to read them. You have your own copy of each book you need. The teacher sends books home with you for practice. If your parents know English, they can read with you.

If there is a quote you want to read at the school assembly, you don’t have to write it out for yourself first because nobody else knows how.

Your mom can read the story you wrote.

There might be one typo in your whole book. Maybe. And everyone complains about that one.

3. Everyone around you reads.

Your parents read. Your teacher reads. Your lunch lady reads. Your big sister reads. They read the same way you read.

You are expected to learn to read.

You’re told that it’s normal to learn to read.

4. You get help when you need it.

If you’re having trouble reading, adults act as if this is a problem. You are expected to take extra classes, to practice, and to get help until you can read well.

If you can’t read, you are called illiterate. You are not given audiobooks. You are taught to read (one hopes). If you don’t know how to write, you are expected to practice and learn to write correctly.

To get a good job that pays a decent wage, you have to be able to read well, write well, and use computers. None of that is considered weird.

5. You learn current technology.

Your school has computers, and you learn to use them. You are taught to type, and you are taught to read on a screen that displays thousands of words at a time. You learn to scan for information, because your class moves quickly.

6. You don’t get a pass.

You are expected to keep up with the class. You don’t get a free pass not to keep up. You don’t get to be lazy just because you’re a print reader. After all, reading print is normal. Everyone knows it’s completely doable, so why should you get to slough off?

You have all the materials you need and all the tools you need. You can’t make excuses, because you have the book you need for the assignment and the pencil or the keyboard you need for your work. The teacher loaded and set up the software your class uses, and he knows how to use it.

7. You know you’ll use print all your life.

You fully expect that you will grow up, get a job, pay bills, and become a contributing member of society. You know you will read and write print as you do all of these things.

8. You read math.

If your teachers did not teach you to read and write the language of printed math in school, your parents would throw a holy, hell-raising, fire-breathing, sue-the-school-for-a-zillion-dollars tantrum. And the community would support them. The school would be put up for review by the state.

If the teachers did not write math code, they would be fired. Period, the end.

And no one would be surprised.

9. Nobody gushes over your reading ability.

Nobody tells you they saw some print on a box of Band-Aids and how cool that is. Nobody tells you that you literally deserve a medal for learning how to read.

Because everybody reads!

You don’t give yourself pats on the back for using a computer at the age of seventeen.

Everyone uses a computer at age seventeen!

Technology is normal for you.

10. You get all the information in class if you bother to pay attention.

A print reader of typical ability and average intelligence can get all the information presented in the classroom. All the stuff on the overhead. All the stuff in every book. All the stuff on the wall. All the lunch menus. All the recess schedules. All the toy names.

And for all that, nobody thinks to be grateful.

A Few Last Comments about Braille

1. Reading Braille is normal for blind kids.

For blind and low-vision kids, Braille is the normal way to read. The tools they use are normal. Reading is normal.

Having Braille on the elevator is normal.

2. Reading Braille is not hard.

Reading Braille by touch is not hard.

READING BRAILLE BY TOUCH IS NOT HARD.

Reading Braille is NOT HARD.

NOT HARD.

Many Braille readers are slow because of all the things listed above that happened when they were learning it.

BRAILLE IS NOT HARD.

3. You can read Braille fast.

Good Braille readers can match print readers for speed.

(Not many do … see above.)

A good Braille reader can read ten thousand pages in a couple of weeks. (Not many do … see above.)

4. Braille is not becoming obsolete.

There are Braille displays for computers. There are Braille embossers. There are Braille transcribers looking for work. There are more Braille books than ever before. There are computers that transcribe books more accurately than ever before.

There are blind people who need to be able to read.

There are people who need to read pill bottles. And bills. And recipes. And blog posts. And books. And textbooks. And math books. And elevator signs. And hallway signs. And foreign languages. And CD covers. And they need to see how names are spelled.

There are deaf-blind people who use Braille to communicate everything!

Since the early 1800s when Louis Braille brought the idea of a quick, dot-based tactile method of reading and writing to his school in France, there have been naysayers. In the beginning people said that Braille wouldn’t work. A separate code that sighted people couldn’t read would never be widely used.

Blind people used Braille anyway, because for the first time, they could write for themselves. Braille gave them voices. They could read what they wrote.

When Braille came to America, it had naysayers. People said it was too expensive to produce. They said there would never be enough books.

Blind people used Braille anyway. They made their own books. They hired people to learn Braille and transcribe it. They raised funds.

As Braille enters the modern century, it has its naysayers. They say it’s becoming obsolete because of technology. They say it’s clunky and outdated.

Blind people keep using it anyway. We use Braille with technology. We use it to learn to spell, and we use it to jot notes. We delight in the thrill of opening a real, paper book and feeling the magical constellations under our fingers as words and stories come to life.

5. Then what is the problem?

See if you can figure it out.

I can hear what you’re thinking: “But Braille is different from print.”

Obviously Braille and print aren’t the same, but they’re not as different as they seem to non-Braille readers. I read both. I read Braille by touch. I read print (sometimes, under the right conditions).

“But I’m a blind person, and I don’t read Braille well. I hardly read it at all.”

Why not? Is it lack of desire, lack of support, lack of encouragement? (I’m not talking about people with multiple disabilities, cognitive impairments, or nerve damage in their fingers.) If it’s lack of desire, I accept that. You may prefer to use audio, magnification, or other reading methods. But if you dig deep into your reasons, and it’s due only to shame or lack of good instruction, I feel that those reasons should not exist. We shouldn’t be ashamed to read! We should not be left unsupported when the rest of our peers have a way to read that fits their needs and frees them for a life full of options.

“But I teach Braille, and what you describe is impossible.”

Is it?

See if you can do something about it.

Please.

Because if blind and low-vision kids got the support their average sighted counterparts get in learning to read, they would not face a 70 percent unemployment rate. There might still be workplace discrimination, but I’d be willing to bet there would be more employed blind folks than there are today!

I wanted to write “That would be amazing,” but I realized that isn’t quite accurate. Amazing implies something above and beyond the norm. It implies something unexpected. It implies something to be marveled at. Reading isn’t something to be marveled at; it’s something that should be expected, that should be normal. It’s basic, like adequate clothing or nutrition. It’s the foundation of every other form of education.

So, instead of “amazing,” I write: “It would finally be what kids deserve. It would be just. It wouldn’t level the playing field, but it would be a start.”

***Reprinted From Facebook

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