by Terri Rupp
From the Editor: Terri Rupp is the mother of two children, one of whom is blind. She serves as the president of the National Federation of the Blind of Nevada, and this article is taken from a blog she composed several years ago. It is as relevant now as it was when it was written:
If only I had Braille when…I was a child learning how to read.
If only I had Braille when…my classes took turns reading out loud, and I was skipped over because I couldn’t even read the large print books that the schools provided me.
If only I had Braille when…the waiter handed me the menu when I sat down with my friends at a restaurant.
If only I had Braille when…my kids asked me to read the signs on the trails where we were hiking.
If only I had Braille when…my son had a 102-degree fever, and I had a brand-new box of medicine and didn’t know the correct dosage to give him.
If only I had Braille when…I was reading the directions on the box of blueberry muffin mix.
If only I had Braille when…I wanted to read a nutrition label on a granola bar wrapper.
If only I had Braille when…my kids find a new book and want me to read it to them.
If only I had been offered Braille as a child instead of fighting to learn it as an adult.
If only Braille was as common as print.
If only all blind or visually impaired children were taught Braille so they wouldn’t have to struggle to read as adults.
Braille is something that I am very passionate about. Tonight as I was reading my children their bedtime stories, I started thinking, “If only I had Braille when…”
Did you know that only 10 percent of blind or visually impaired children are taught Braille? Did you know that as a child I struggled to read large print, fell behind in school, and worked twice as hard as my peers to keep up? Did you know that I didn’t fully become literate until the age of twenty-three when I finally learned Braille? What if only 10 percent of sighted children were taught how to read?
I have to admit that I haven’t thought about these things quite as much in the last few years. However, now I am teaching my own daughter how to read and write, and now I am personally transcribing many of the books that are on their bookshelves into Braille so that I can read to them because it is faster than waiting for new Braille/print books.As a child I used to wish that I could be either completely sighted or completely blind so that I wouldn’t have to be stuck in the middle, always having to explain my so-called disability. Now all I wish for is for more Braille: More Braille for blind children learning how to read; More Braille for blind adults all over the world; More Braille. More Braille. More Braille.