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

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

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.