I finally had a chance to visit the Braille Institute near downtown LA! I arrived at about 4:15pm, and first I talked to the receptionist about my senior project and how I was looking to both learn Braille and also learn about issues that come with visual impairment, and hopefully raise awareness. She gave me useful brochures on different things, such as myths about visual impairment, what we can do to help someone we know who has a visual impairment, etc. I’m hoping to come back and get more copies before my presentation so I can hand them out to the people who come and spread the knowledge. If not, I can always make photocopies.
Another really great thing she gave me was a little plastic brochure that had the different types of visual impairment; you hold it up to your eye, and it gives an example of how people with different visual impairments see. The best thing, though, was a small slip with the Braille alphabet, but the dots were actually raised. I can finally master the Braille alphabet not only be sight, but also by touch!!
After I visited the receptionist, she suggested I go visit the volunteer center. I did, and they gave me the business card of the director for high school/college outreach, so perhaps I will also see what I can do with this and maybe even volunteer there (I’d only be able to do it after school though, which is a problem because they close at 5pm).
And now comes the best part: Vistas, the store inside the Braille Institute. They have all these really useful resources for people with visual impairment, and also materials to practice learning Braille. (I’d actually though almost everyone who were legally blind knew Braille, but I was told that many don’t necessarily know, and/or are barely beginning). After browsing for a while and gulping at the price stickers, I finally came across the most amazing thing ever: a Braille dictionary for beginners, with level 1 andcontractions (level 2) included. I was in heaven. Not only does it have hundreds of words with raised dot cells, it also includes a thesaurus at the end, with things like common verbs and adjectives, as well as numbers, seasons, days of the week, month, and holidays.
It is perfect.
I could not believe my luck. I can finally begin really developing touch sensitivity! I only need to get the Braille alphabet down pat by touch (which I can do with the raised alphabet sheet the receptionist gave me) and then simply flip to a random page and begin practicing! The best thing is that it only cost $14.95! Many of the things in the store were $20+, so I was extremely surprised that the dictionary was so cheap. I couldn’t have found anything better if I’d looked online. Going to the Braille Insitute was just what I needed to really begin learning Braille by touch.