A close-up shot of Jasmyn's hot-pink t-shirt that reads "DOTZ" in text and braille.

Imagine being in the dark on a stormy night. Everything is out and there’s nothing else to do but sit in the dark. All of a sudden, you pick up a book to read. However you know that you can’t see the book because it’s dark. But it’s different because this book has a special quality. You open the book and realize that there are “dotz” in it!

These “dotz” are known as braille! You’re happy because you don’t have to use your eyes to read, and you won’t be bored! Instead, you’re using your hands to read to compensate for vision. Now you are satisfied that you have something to do until the power comes back on from the storm! There are so many benefits of learning braille that you might not know – and I’m going to share five from my experience.

Why Learn Braille?

You might ask yourself, “Why should I learn braille?” Or, “Is braille for me?” These questions are a great start for making the decision to learn braille. There may be many reasons why you would like to learn braille. One might be your losing your sight from a progressive eye condition such as glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, or macular degeneration. You might also want to learn because you want to be able to communicate with other blind or visually impaired people. There are so many explanations for wanting to learn this code!

1. The Ability to Read in the Dark

When you are in a bad storm, or people are sleeping and you can’t turn on the light to read a print book, you can take out your braille book and read without any lights! You don’t have to worry about disturbing anyone, or being bored during a blackout.

In fact, the dark actually helps you concentrate better on reading that material you’re interested in. It actually makes reading more fun when you’re able to discover things without eyesight! It’s kind of like going on a new adventure. When I read or write braille, I always use a pair of sleep shades.

2. Prepare for Possible Vision Loss

We don’t know what can happen to our sight in the future so we must do everything we can to prepare for a possible vision loss. Progressive eye conditions such as glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy can cause you to lose your sight.

When you have braille, however, you don’t have to worry about not being able to do things because of vision loss. If you do lose your sight from an eye condition or accident, you can still do the things you want … with your fingers! Since I have glaucoma, a progressive eye condition, I’m dedicating my time to learn braille in case I lose my sight.

3. Becoming Literate 

When you read and write braille, you never have to depend on sight to help you live your life after vision loss. According to Braille Works, American Printing House for the Blind conducts polls in each state to get data on children between the ages of 4 and 21. Out of the estimated 60,400 students that are attending public schools or public-run programs, only 8.5% read braille.

Those who didn’t read braille had a harder time getting a job. How would you feel if you didn’t know how to read a book or newspaper and you had to always rely on someone else to do these tasks for you?

What would be your feelings? I know if I couldn’t read my favorite book, I would be lost! This is why braille is so vital to the blind and visually impaired. It’s like our heartbeat! I know that I will always be literate no matter what happens to my eyes!

4. Communicating with the Blind Effectively 

Think about it, if you are proficient in braille, then you’ll be able to communicate with a friend or family member that is blind or visually impaired. You will be able to write letters, read books and more with braille once you master it!

I remember as soon as I learned braille, I was able to write to my friends who are blind and I would get feedback from my friends. It makes you feel good when you’re able to communicate!

5. Developing More Confidence in Yourself

As I started learning braille, I noticed that my confidence was growing and I had a more positive attitude on things I can do without sight. Braille is one of the best things I ever learned in my whole life and I’m so grateful that Louis Braille invented this awesome code 200 years ago for the blind and visually impaired to function in this world!

I strongly encourage all blind and visually impaired people to learn braille and keep it in their every day lives. Once you learn this writing code, you will be able to function better in the sighted world. Braille is the key to literacy!

You can read more from Jasmyn in her previous #MyBlindStory post, My Journey with Braille. You can also follow her on Instagram (@JasmynPolite) and Twitter (@DaytonaState14).

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