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The Basics

Touch and Tell

let’s continue our journey with rubber bands, paper clips and safety pins. In the kitchen, put one rubber band around the cans of beans, and two for corn. In your closet, put one small safety pin inside the black pants, and two for the brown. Put a paper clip on the mail you want to keep, and none for the junk mail. I’ll bet you get the idea. Use something to designate which type of thing is which. Doing for yourself starts with being able to tell this from that. If you could see, it would be easy. When you can’t see, you need a system.

There are better ways of labeling your stuff, and we will get to them in time. For now though, get a good supply of rubber bands, paper clips and safety pins. Pro tip: You can also use big ones and little ones to add to your labeling options. Just be consistent, and – the most important tip – remember your system.

A Little Braille Helps Too

I think most everyone has a notion about Braille and what it is. It’s raised bumps or dots in specific patterns that people who can’t see use to read. If you are a proficient Braille user, you have a skill set that most people who can’t see don’t have.

Does that surprise you? You’re not alone. The belief is common enough that I am often offered a Braille menu when I go to a restaurant, and even my bank and the gas company send me a Braille version of my current account monthly. I have never requested this service. They just assume that, since I can’t see, I know Braille well enough to read Braille documents. That is definitely not true for me.

I can use Braille well enough to do quite a lot though, and you can likely learn enough Braille to make some things in your day-to-day world easier and more convenient. If you are motivated to learn to be a proficient Braille user, please go for it. Your new skill set will serve you well. If you are responsible for a school-age youngster who can’t see or who is likely to lose his or her vision, make learning Braille a priority for the young person. But if you are older and simply not up to the journey to Braille proficiency, I do have a suggestion for you.

Take a few hours to learn a little Braille.

The Hadley School is an easy way to get started: or Call 800-323-4238. Just tell them that you want to learn a little Braille. They will take it from there, and sooner than you may think, you will be labeling things and making quick notes for this and that.

The helpful folks at Hadley will register you in their starter Braille class, help you get everything you need to succeed and then set up a few classes that you complete at home. And it’s free. Can it get any easier than that?

I can’t read a book or even a page of Braille, but I can read the Braille labels on my medication from the pharmacy, the card I carry with me that has the number and other info for my credit card, the labels I’ve made for stuff around the house and notes I make when talking to a group or when I want to remember a number or other little piece of information. Knowing more Braille might be useful; but even with the little I know, it definitely comes in handy most every day.

Here’s the deal. Just like a little exercise is better than no exercise, and a little patience is better than no patience, and a little independence is better than no independence, a little Braille is way better than no Braille. Start with Hadley or someone else who can teach you and then give it fifteen minutes a day for four weeks. If after that, you still think it’s a waste of your time, you’re probably right. Until then though, give learning a little Braille a chance.