Braille in Brazil

I noticed an article talking about how Brazil was going to start production of braille writers in the country.
Likely you can pick any population demographic and see the striking difference between the haves and have-nots on the planet. Each time I read one of these articles about an accessibility technology being built or used in a place that hasn’t had it in the past, I’m thankful for the education and experiences I’ve had.
I grew up during a time when it was no longer standard practice to send kids who were blind off to a residential school. In my case I was offered a choice between what I’ve come to call the “Braille Jail” (Wisconsin’s school for the Visually Handicapped) and what was a pilot program in Wisconsin at the time to send kids with disabilities to “regular” schools and provide the additional resources necessary as part of the education within the school.
This was long before terms like “mainstreaming” and “classroom assistant” were a part of the educational landscape. In my case these additional resources simply meant a full day of school in kindergarten instead of the traditional half. My afternoons were spent doing things like learning braille and developing my sense of touch. In later years it meant a resource was available to do things like read books, tests and such. This is an over simplification and perhaps I’ll blog about my entire education experience at some point.
Reflecting back on my education today, I am so thankful I had the experiences I did. I’ve talked to many people who are blind who didn’t have anything approaching the positive attitudes from teachers and other students I did. All wasn’t necessarily perfect as the school system I attended was not in the city where I lived. Today living in the Seattle area, a distance of 17 miles doesn’t seem like a big deal. Back then the same distance–from Fond du Lac to Oshkosh–was like two different worlds.
Perhaps my only regret is that I didn’t attend any of the same schools as anyone else in my family. Sure the stories of school days past are pretty much the same the nation over, but the characters in mine versus others in my family are all different. That said I wouldn’t even call it a regret. In a family of 11 kids, it was assuredly easier to be my own individual when I wasn’t lost in the shuffle of being just another “Ford” at the local high school.
I’ve used a lot of gadgets, technology and devices over the years. That’s likely another blog post or two but it is nice to see what I regard as one of the standards, namely a Perkins, being made available to more people. Screen readers, scanners and such are all great but I’ve had my Perkins since I was five and it is still something I treasure. Some do not have the physical ability to read or write braille, but for anyone who does, braille is a must and the sound of a Perkins hammering away as someone writes is music to my ears.