Braille Plate and Stylus

Braille guide

On the list of things I’ve done for a job, this is a memento from one of the cooler ones. Back in college (the first time), as one of the things I did to help make ends meet, I recorded textbooks and did some “seeing eye human” stuff for blind students for a while. What I found out from the experience, was that if the book was okay or better it wasn’t too bad of a job, but if the book sucked, or was on a topic I had no interest in, it wasn’t fun at all. I also found out that people are people no matter what kind, and exactly like everyone else, some are nice folk, and some aren’t.

Grubbycup (Braille US Lvl 1)

The above is (I hope, it has been a long time, so if someone could double check me there I’d appreciate it) The word “Grubbycup” in braille. The first dot shown means the first letter “G” (the four dot group) is capitalized. Since this is level 1 braille, each letter is represented (can you spot the double dot pattern that stands for “b”?). In level 2 or when commonly used; a series of common abbreviations and letter clusters are also used. While this means more to remember, it also means that it is faster to both read and write. I wish I still had it, but I used to have a braille issue of “Playboy” magazine. I have to admit, I was kinda disappointed they translated only the text articles.

Like I mentioned, I never got very good at braille, and would have to look everything up again.

I also took a couple semesters of ASL (American Sign Language) classes, but then never practiced or used it,so pretty sure I’ve lost most to all of that too. I must have been on a roll at the time, because as I recall I was volunteering at a local lockup mental facility at the time (I was still a psych major at that point). There was another eye opening experience for me, although I have to admit. I Worked with people who were literally nuthouse crazy (we did a field trip to the state fair one year that was a lot of fun, but I was so scared one was going to wander off I counted the folks over and over again like I had some sort of compulsive mental problem).

I have to say, hands down, the most heartbreaking group to work with is the SED (severely emotionally disturbed) kids in group homes. What got to me the most was that I only saw a small fraction that were messed up because of a medical condition or other unavoidable event (some, but not many), almost every kid I saw was messed up because an adult or adults abused them one way or another until they broke.

For my 2 cents on the time invested; even though I didn’t use the actual skills in trying to learn at least the basics of braille and sign language, and I wound up not going into psychology as a profession, I still feel it was time well spent. If nothing else, it really got me to take the time and try to imagine what it might be like to be blind, or deaf, or just someone else who followed a different path, and had different obstacles to overcome.

Gentle Readers, no matter what size or shape, try to always cut your fellow freaks some slack, you never know when someone giving you a little slack may come in handy.

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