June 29, 2023
Thanks to Frank Taylor from The Legends Project and Mary Weber from Mary's Braille Transcribing Services for a great Intro to Braille workshop on June 29th here in our community room at empower: abilities! Frank and Mary taught participants the Braille alphabet using a muffin tin and tennis balls-- what a cool hands-on system for learning!
Frank started the session by giving a bit of background on The Legends Project, explaining that he'd spoken with a lot of veterans, and noticed a lot of despondency in the face of vision impairment. These folks were experiencing a loss of independence, and Frank felt determined to find a way to give them back some hope and a sense of independence in their lives. He went on to teach participants at the event that you can learn Braille using a muffin tin and tennis balls! Each slot in the muffin tin is called a "cell" and is numbered one through six to correspond to each of the six cells in the Braille system.
Frank then led event participants through an alphabetical story in tandem with the tennis ball demonstration to help the Braille Alphabet stick in their memories. "A is for Apple, B is for Bat. A Bat is up-and-down," he explained, showing the corresponding tennis balls in an up-and-down configuration in the muffin tin. "Then, you hit the Apple with a Bat, and it hits a Car. C is for Car. Then, you have to take a Detour, which takes you to an Exit..." and so on for the entire alphabet!
Frank taught participants that Braille has been around since the 1800s and was originally developed as a method of nighttime communication for the military. Then, it was elaborated upon and refined into the system we now know today as Braille. Did you know that people aged 65+ are the fastest-growing population of individuals with vision impairment? Most people learning Braille for the first time are already over the age of 45-- it's never too late to learn a new skill!
The Legends Project is a non-profit, uniquely created to address the challenges of those in our community experiencing vision loss. Their focus is primarily centered around men, women, veterans, and baby boomers who are experiencing vision loss at an alarming rate. Experts predict that by 2030, rates of vision loss within this population will double and by 2040 the numbers will quadruple. To learn more about their mission, visit https://thelegendsproject.org/
Empower: abilities is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides support, resources, and advocacy for people with disabilities. They aim to be a one-stop-shop for all things disability-related in Southwest Missouri. Their mission is to remove barriers and empower independent living for all people with disabilities. Find out more at empowerabilities.org.