Sunday, May 27, 2012

Q&A Regarding Braille Labels

The other day, one of my Facebook friends posted the following as her status update.
"Can someone explain how braille works? Does a person with visual impairment need assistance to find braille? Are signs generally in a standard location? Does anyone know anyone who reads/uses braille? Do they find it to be helpful in asserting their independence? Just curious."

Here's my response to her initial inquiry.

"If traveling alone, I absolutely rely on the braille markers in buildings to navigate and confirm that I've arrived at the right place in the building. Furthermore, I use the braille labels in elevators to select which floor I would like to go to. When staying in a hotel by myself, I rely on the braille label outside of my room to make sure I'm trying to enter the right suite. There is no doubt that the braille labels create more accessibility for the person who is blind.
BTW: While technology has made amazing strides in the world of the blind and visually impaired, braille literacy is still critically important.
My microwave, washer and dryer, and oven timer has braille labels. I use braille notecards when I'm giving a speech.
Of course, I probably use technology 90% of the time as it pertains to my independence. However, the 10% of the time I use braille, I'm glad that I have the skill and access to such a wonderful tool."

My response sparked more questions from my friend.

"Angie, when you are out, how do you know where to find the braille markers? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you use braille. Is the placement standard? Are there national guidelines as to the dimensions and placement of the markers so you know how/where to find them? You can make your own braille notecards? So a braille writer is like a word processor? Angie, you already answered my next question, which was about what % of the time would you say that you use braille? Are the braille labels in the house custom?"

My response...

"I don't know if there is an ADA guideline that is used to mandate where the braille labels must be placed. To be quite honest, I've noticed the braille labels in different spots. Sometimes, they are to the side of the door. Other times, the labels are on the door, right above the door handle. I guess it all depends on the facilities manager and/or engineer.
I very seldom travel within buildings that I haven't been introduced to by a sighted person for the first go round. I always ask the sighted person who is introducing me if there are braille labels that I can use to help me navigate if or when I may be alone. If you've noticed, many of the braille labels are also accompanied by large, embossed, print letters. I also feel those labels to help me navigate, being that I still remember what print looks like.
Do I go around feeling all of the braille labels posted in buildings? Absolutely not. More often than not, I count doors, openings in hallways, listen for the sound of open space, air condition units, and vending machines to help me navigate. But if I'm trying to make sure that my orientation has landed me in the right place, I like to have a braille label there to make sure I'm entering the right room.
Blind or sighted, it's not cool to barge in the wrong gender specific bathroom. Know what I mean?
Answer to your next question...
I have two manual braille writers here at my house. I also have a braille printer that works conjointly with special software on my computer. That software converts print into braille code. And the braille printer spits out what was once print in a form that is accessible to the blind. YAY BRAILLE!
I do not use my manual braille writer or the braille printer often. I have found that the speech on my computer systems is more convenient. However, there are some special instances that I prefer braille.
Part of the reason why I prefer speech over braille in most situations is because my Braille reading speed is slower than I need it to be. I can type it fast as lightening. But I read it slow as a snail.
Since I'm a person that has to do things fast, I use the tool that is the fastest for me.
Remember, this is my unique stance on the aforementioned. Every blind person is different.
Here's the answer to your last question... No, the braille labels in my house are not custom. I have a hand-held braille machine that I use to make braille labels. I type what I want the label to say, and post the label where I want it to be."

**If any of you have questions like the above for me, post them here. I'll be glad to answer! That's what NuVision for a NuDay is all about!!!!!!**

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