A place to introduce ourselves

This post is dedicated to the introducing yourselves. New users, who come to the forum. Nice idea of Justina, who posted it. Please, who feels like it, introduce yourselves in the comments.

Rudolf Volejník

A member of the EBU Braille Working Group.
vicepresident Emeritus of Czech Blind United (SONS)

Interview with Rudolf about his opinions and views on braille

Question: How long have you been using Braille? How important is it to you? What impact has it had concretely on your life? Was it easy to learn? Did you like it since the beginning?

  1. I’ve been using Braille for the last 67 years.
  2. For me, it has the same importance as has print for the sighted. No romantic love-affair. It’s just part of modern civilisation.
  3. Again, if any, the impact of Braille is the same as the impact of print on the sighted.
  4. Braille was very easy to learn. I memorized the prepschool primer in a fortnight. It contained at least half the non-accented Czech Characters and one accented character essential for the word “mom” as well as simple geometric shapes: rectangles, squares, circles and non-dotted lines.
  5. I liked it not because it was Braille; I liked it because using it I could read and write as the sighted.

Question: As regards computer work, do you use speech synthesis, the Braille display or both? Which do you prefer? Why?

  1. I use both Braille (main channel) and speech (auxiliary channel).
  2. Braille is unambiguously preferred.
  3. With Braille as primary source of information, I can move around the screen faster with less uncertainty and more reliability.

Question: As far as reading books is concerned, do you prefer to make use of Braille, audiobooks or other options? Why?

  1. As I have already stated Braille means for me the same as print for a sighted person. During my lifetime, I have read thousands of Braille hardcopy books as well as electronic Braille books.
  2. I use audio books as sighted people, for instance, group listening when travelling by car long distances.

Question: Over the years have there been any changes in how often you use Braille?

  • No, I’ve been using Braille from morning to late evening as any sighted person would use print.

Question: Czech Blind United organized national contests in Braille literacy skills: can you tell us about this briefly? Are they still taking place? How useful in keeping Braille alive is this sort initiatives, such as also the Onkyo Braille Essay Contest which the EBU co-organised until a few years ago?

  1. I was educated at a residential school for the blind where Braille speed-reading contests were immensely popular. As I was always the winner, I stopped competing at the age of 14.
  2. For the same reason, I didn’t compete in Czech Blind United speed-reading contests; I didn’t want to spoil the game. After many a year, in 2018, I was during the final round of the Contest wondering whether we had some new fast readers. During the break, I visited the head-juror in her back-office and asked her to measure my reading time as if competing. At the end of the session, she informed me that I was still some 30 seconds faster then the fastest reader who won the first prize. This vast gap can have quite a number of causes such as one-hand reading, non-economical two-hand reading, up/down movement of the reading finger, etc. To analyse the causes would most certainly reach outside the scope of this interview.
  3. The Czech contests are organized every two years, being still very popular.
  4. It’s a real pity that the Onkyo World Braille Contest was terminated. As a member of the International Jury for Europe, I encountered lots of first-class essays on Braille. On the other hand, the contest in its last two or three seasons seemed to be burned out with repetitive empty-worded eulogies of Louis Braille.

Question: What would you say in short to young people with visual impairments about Braille?

  1. I have no special message for young blind people except this: if you want to be competitive, independent, non-reliant on social welfare, be literate; it helps a lot.
  2. Back in 1970s and 1980s, you had in Italy a flourishing Optacon training programme. Would you guess how many Optacon users do you have now and could the same happen to Braille?
  3. Czech Education Act contains a provision which states in essence that all deaf and hard-of-hearing persons shall learn at school the sign language. In the same Act, Braille is just a non-mandatory option: the parent, the teacher, the rehab advisor or whoever may decide what is best for a blind child. If we really mean to save Braille, Braille instruction shall be promoted to the same level of legal obligation as is the case of sing-language.

Justyna writes:

Hello everyone,
My name is:
Justyna Połomska I live in Poland, I am a new person, I have been a Brailleist since I was a child
I greet everyone

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