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Blind Industries & Services of Maryland

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BISM

Awareness Articles

Topics Relevant to Blind and Low-vision Individuals

  • Director of First Impressions, Ruth Hairsine, sits at BISM reception desk
Director of First Impressions, Ruth Hairsine, sits at BISM reception desk

How Can I Get you to Smile? Celebrating World Braille Literacy Month

When was the last time you visited or called BISM?

Do you remember who greeted you at the door or over the phone?

More than likely your first stop would be meeting our Front Desk Receptionist, also known as the Director of First Impressions, Ruth Hairsine.

As we recognize January as World Braille Literacy Month, Ruth reflects on her journey in learning braille and its importance to her life. 

Blindness was always a part of Ruth’s life. As a child, she had what some view as useable vision which led her teachers to believe she could learn to read and didn't need to learn braille. Her books and assignments were provided in large print, however they weren't easily available.  Thus causing some challenges in her education.

Finally at the age of 34, Ruth was given the opportunity to learn braille. An instructor at Maryland’s Division of Rehabilitation Services was gracious enough to teach her.  Although excited to finally get to learn braille, Ruth found learning it very challenging as an adult. While Ruth had grown accustomed to reading letters visually, it took some time to process reading through a tactile format. She is convinced if she had learned braille earlier in life as a kid, it would have been so much easier.

Once Ruth mastered braille, she began to use it all the time - at work, in the community, and at home.

With technology advancing faster than ever, many argue that braille is becoming obsolete. Ruth strongly disagrees. She believes anyone experiencing vision loss should be introduced to braille as it will open up so many more doors to proper education, meaningful employment, and social connection.

At BISM, we share the same sentiments as Ruth. Braille provides the keys to literacy in the Blind community and with these keys, the possibilities are endless.

To learn more about braille and World Braille Literacy Month click here.  

Archive - Awareness Articles

  • Director of First Impressions, Ruth Hairsine, sits at BISM reception desk
Director of First Impressions, Ruth Hairsine, sits at BISM reception desk

How Can I Get you to Smile? Celebrating World Braille Literacy Month

When was the last time you visited or called BISM?

Do you remember who greeted you at the door or over the phone?

More than likely your first stop would be meeting our Front Desk Receptionist, also known as the Director of First Impressions, Ruth Hairsine.

As we recognize January as World Braille Literacy Month, Ruth reflects on her journey in learning braille and its importance to her life. 

Blindness was always a part of Ruth’s life. As a child, she had what some view as useable vision which led her teachers to believe she could learn to read and didn't need to learn braille. Her books and assignments were provided in large print, however they weren't easily available.  Thus causing some challenges in her education.

Finally at the age of 34, Ruth was given the opportunity to learn braille. An instructor at Maryland’s Division of Rehabilitation Services was gracious enough to teach her.  Although excited to finally get to learn braille, Ruth found learning it very challenging as an adult. While Ruth had grown accustomed to reading letters visually, it took some time to process reading through a tactile format. She is convinced if she had learned braille earlier in life as a kid, it would have been so much easier.

Once Ruth mastered braille, she began to use it all the time - at work, in the community, and at home.

With technology advancing faster than ever, many argue that braille is becoming obsolete. Ruth strongly disagrees. She believes anyone experiencing vision loss should be introduced to braille as it will open up so many more doors to proper education, meaningful employment, and social connection.

At BISM, we share the same sentiments as Ruth. Braille provides the keys to literacy in the Blind community and with these keys, the possibilities are endless.

To learn more about braille and World Braille Literacy Month click here.  

  • young girl reading Braille while sitting with bare feet on chair
  • close up on woman's hands reading Braille
  • joyous woman reading Braille at desk
joyous woman reading Braille at desk

Braille and its Importance

Braille is a system of raised dots that can be read with the fingers by people who are blind or have low vision. It is a crucial tool for literacy and education, allowing blind individuals to read and write independently, just like their sighted peers.

In the past, blind individuals were often excluded from education or had limited access to information. Braille changed this by providing a way for them to access written material on their own. Today, braille is used in a variety of settings, including schools, universities, and workplaces, to ensure that blind individuals have equal access to information and can participate fully in their studies and careers.

One of the key benefits of braille is that it allows blind individuals to learn at their own pace, just like sighted individuals. They can read and write independently, without relying on someone else to read material aloud to them or write down their thoughts. This independence is crucial for building confidence and self-esteem, and it enables blind individuals to fully participate in their education and careers.

In addition to providing access to written material, braille also helps blind individuals develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Reading braille requires precise finger movements and the ability to distinguish between different patterns of raised dots. These skills can be transferable to other tasks, such as using a keyboard or other assistive technology.

Despite the numerous benefits of braille, it is often overlooked or underfunded in education systems around the world. This can lead to a lack of resources and trained teachers, resulting in limited access to braille for blind individuals. It is important for education systems to prioritize braille and provide the necessary resources and support to ensure that blind individuals have equal access to education.

Braille is a crucial tool for literacy and education for blind individuals. It allows them to read and write independently, develop fine motor skills, and participate fully in their education and careers. It is important for education systems to prioritize braille and provide the necessary resources and support to ensure that all individuals have equal access to education.

Access to communication in the widest sense is access to knowledge, and that is vitally important for us if we [the blind] are not to go on being despised or patronized by condescending sighted people. We do not need pity, nor do we need to be reminded we are vulnerable. We must be treated as equals – and communication is the way this can be brought about.
-Louis Braille, Ca. 1824