Many inventions that were created to assist people with disabilities have gone mainstream without people thinking about their origins. As a deaf person, I put a vibrating alarm clock under my pillow years before my friends set their cell phones to vibrate. In the same vein, the popular trend of books on tape, CD, and playaways would not have been possible without the first Talking Books for the Blind.
ACLD has always been committed to providing materials for blind, visually-impaired, and deafblind patrons. Along with thousands of Large Print books, audio books (many of which can be downloaded at home), and Talking Books and Talking Book players, the Library offers titles in Braille for children and adults, as well as books to teach the sighted to read Braille, and guides for parents and educators.
People may wonder why Braille is still used in teaching blind and visually-impaired children, when it's much easier for them to access information through audio materials. For decades, the Florida Division of Blind Services has promoted a campaign to increase Braille literacy. Unlike audio materials, children learn to read, write, and count through Braille literacy. According to statistics, blind people who know Braille are much more likely to be employed. Braille, like print, enables a person to make notes, read a spreadsheet, take minutes at a meeting, file materials, and do a variety of other tasks efficiently and independently.
Patrons can sign up to receive Braille titles at home by downloading an application (in English or Spanish) at the DBS website, or by calling their local Blind Services District Office. Library staff can assist with this, and help patrons access the other Library materials previously mentioned.
Last year marked the bicentennial of the birth of Braille's creator. A blind Frenchman named Louis Jean-Philippe Braille created a system of raised dots to allow the blind to read. He did it by modifying a French military code that was used by soldiers to communicate in the dark without using lanterns. Braille opened up a new world of possibility and education.
An excellent book I recommend to all patrons, regardless of age or ability, is The Black Book of Colors, by Menena Cottin and Rosana Faria. This title invites readers to imagine living without sight through remarkable illustrations done with raised lines and descriptions of colors based on imagery. Braille letters accompany the illustrations and a full Braille alphabet offers sighted readers help reading along with their fingers. Explore this important part of the Library collection!