I have long wanted to prepare a little booklet called “Survival Braille.” It would contain practical, easy-to-do ideas for a person who is losing vision. Here are two examples of the hints such a booklet might contain.
A Little Braille Can Go a Long Way
My senior citizen student was making good but slow progress working her way through the braille alphabet. She was rapidly losing vision and had little useful sight remaining. She liked to cook. Her biggest challenge at the moment was identifying spices. She brought her spice bottles to our private tutoring session and expressed her frustration.
Together we devised short abbreviations for each spice and brailled labels that we placed on the bottles. Because we planned and carried out this activity together, she could readily read the labels. Once again, she felt confident she used the right spices for her recipes.
This quick and practical use of a little bit of braille sparked her desire to learn more. Soon she was brailling short thank you notes and get well cards for others in her support group.
Don’t Eat the Fishing Worms
You don’t have to be an expert braille reader to label items around the house and make life a little easier. For some situations, you don’t need to use braille at all. Here is a story about another of my senior citizen students.
This student was doing well with her beginning braille lessons. Getting organized in the kitchen was taking a little longer. She bought cottage cheese, margarine and sour cream that came in similar-feeling containers; all resided in the refrigerator. To determine the contents, she opened the lid, dipped in her finger and scooped up a taste until she found the one she wanted.
One day as she was about to taste test, her senses of touch and of smell told her not to. The container she had selected held her husband’s fishing worms!
We put a single rubber band around the cottage cheese, two rubber bands around the margarine, and three around the sour cream. Note that the items are arranged alphabetically as the number of rubber bands increases. From then on, if she found an unmarked container in the refrigerator, she moved it to her husband’s section of the refrigerator for him to discover. As her braille skills increased, we gradually moved to braille to help keep her kitchen in order.
Share Your Tips and Shortcuts
Do you have ideas that help smooth out the rough spots when vision is failing? Please share with us so others may benefit from your experiences. Use the comment section below, call Carolyn at 425-778-8428, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Perhaps together we will write that “Survival Braille” booklet.