toggle quoted messageShow quoted text
Thank you for your great blog post. It was thought-provoking.
Are usually tell people that I have read an audiobook even though I have listened to it. It’s the same as telling people that I have seen a TV show or watched it even though I have listened to it. Over the years, many sighted people have asked me how I can watch TV without eyesight. I tell them that I use that terminology because that’s what the sided world uses. Many sighted people have said that we blind people see with our other senses. I guess that’s how we can justify saying that we have read an audiobook. We see with our other senses. Therefore, we read the material with our ears. Unless you speak Latin which is a dead language, one has to get used to the fact that language changes all the time. Therefore, using all of these words and terms interchangeably is not such a big deal. At least not when it comes to this subject. Rush Limbaugh once said that we are losing our language. He’s probably right.
In a perfect world, all blind people would know how to read braille and they would benefit from it. However, that is not the case. All of the reasons for learning and using braille mentioned in this thread are valid. But the reasons for not doing so that have been mentioned here makes sense as well. So much of it is just about personal preference and the circumstances of one’s life. You do what you have to do, and you do what you want to do. In any case, this whole discussion may be mute since the educational system is not really teaching braille to blind people anyway. If that’s the case, braille advocates will always fight an uphill battle. Again, the one thing that braille advocates have in their favor is the emergence of low cost Braille displays.
On Mar 6, 2020, at 6:06 PM, Evan Reese <mentat1@...> wrote:
Well, I would say that listening to an audio book is not the same as
reading it, either in braille or print.
To illustrate, if I tell you a story, would you say that you had read it?
No. Now, what if I write down the story and read it to you, either in person or
on the phone. Would you say that you had read it? I don’t think so.
Now, suppose I make a recording of me reading the story and send it to you.
Would you say that you had read it? The only difference is that, instead of
reading it to you live, I’m reading it on tape, as we used to say.
So no, listening to someone read a book is not the same thing as reading it
oneself. You may still get the information, but you didn’t read it if you
listened to someone else read it.
I don’t think a synthetic voice makes any difference. True, it doesn’t know
what it’s saying, but you still have an intermediary between yourself and the
actual text, you’re still listening to (in this case), a computer translate the
actual text into words. So, even though it doesn’t comprehend what it is
translating, it is still reading to you in the strictest sense. You are not
reading when using a synthetic voice.
But language changes, definitions change over time. It may happen soon that
people will say that they are actually reading when they are listening to a
voice, any voice, whether human or synthetic, read to them. Many people already
say that, so I think we’re on the way. I don’t care all that much. I’ve done it
myself, said that I read a book when I actually listened to someone else read
it. I don’t make a big deal out of it. But you asked for thoughts, and that’s
what I actually believe, even if I speak off-handedly about reading audio
Sent: Friday, March 06, 2020 6:58 PM
Subject: Re: [TechTalk] warning if you doing
I'd like to address this topic of literacy when talking about whether or not
a person is able or not able to read Braille. I wrote a blog post about this a
while ago as these were questions which I was considering and I'd like to share
this post with you if you have an interest in reading it. I'm afraid that it
really doesn't answer these questions and, in fact, may raise a few additional
ones that some of us might not have considered. Here is the post.
Books: Reading Vs. Listening
morning I was browsing my Facebook timeline and stumbled on a post from one of
my friends who posed a very interesting question. The question has to do with
the wording we use to convey how we consume audio books. My friend pointed out
that she’s noticing a trend, both with blind and sighted readers, where they
will use the verb “listen” instead of “read”, as in “I just finished listening
to that book” as opposed to “I just finished reading that book”, as if consuming
a book via audio isn’t quite the same as reading it.
I’ll provide a bit of background into my own life as an avid reader. I learned
how to read Braille when I was around four and how to write it not much later
than that. I’ve always found reading Braille to be very easy and I’ve been
reading books using Braille for about as long as I can remember. I remember the
enjoyment I always felt going to my school library, browsing the many shelves of
Braille books and being able to check out one or two books a week, which I
always read quickly. Of course, there were many books, known as talking books,
which were recorded on cassettes’ as well as on phonograph records. Talking
books have been available for blind and visually impaired consumers to borrow
since the 1930s, way before audio books became popular with sighted consumers.
While I never hesitated to borrow a book on tape from my library, Braille was
always my preferred medium and, when given a choice between Braille and audio,
Braille was always what I chose.
I’ve embraced new technologies the way I consume books has also changed. Nearly
all of the books which I consume are done so audibly and not in Braille. There
are several reasons for this and they don’t apply to all readers who are blind.
First, most of the books which I want to read are just not available in Braille.
While the National Library
Service produces many Braille books there are simply more
titles available in an audio format. Even then the amount of books produced by
NLS, while I greatly appreciate the work that they do, is a drop in the bucket
compared to the amount of titles available from other
suppliers. Bookshare, another specialized library for
people with print disabilities, offers over half a million books and that number
continues to increase. Learning Ally is
another specialized library which I’ve used for over 35 years, offers around
80,000 human-narrated titles. Of course, mainstream book suppliers such as the
Kindle store offer millions of books, with more constantly being added. These
specialized and mainstream suppliers offer a much greater selection of books
than what I am able to borrow from my local NLS affiliate.
readers will no doubt want to remind me of the fact that we do have Braille
display technology, which will work both with my computer as well as with my
phone. This is certainly true and a Braille display would certainly allow me to
read books from any of these suppliers using the same Braille code that I
enjoyed using with books printed on paper. However, there are reasons which, for
me, make this an impractical solution.
Braille display technology, while readily available for many devices, is often
costly. As an example, Freedom Scientific’s most inexpensive Braille display,
the Focus 14 Blue, costs $1295.00. At this time spending over a thousand dollars
for a Braille display is just not something which I could easily do, considering
it’s a device that I don’t truly need. However, even if a Braille display
magically dropped onto my desk the fact is that I do a lot of reading either on
the train or lying in bed. Reading with a Braille display on a moving train, no
matter how portable, is just too awkward. When I’m lying in bed and wanted to
read a book it’s just so much easier to do this with a small phone and would
prove to be a bit less convenient if I added even a 14-cell display.
back to the topic. My friend was pointing out that she has noticed that many
people say they’ve listened to a book as opposed to reading it if the book was
consumed in an audio medium, such as an audio CD or listening to it with
synthetic speech using the Kindle app. However, this also makes me think of how
we often use the word “read” when we actually have listened to the book.
raises some interesting questions. When it comes to books, is it fair to
consider it reading regardless of how it’s consumed? There are probably some
sighted people who feel that the only way to truly read a book is to do so by
processing the printed material visually. Of course, as blind people we know
this is certainly not the case. All of us would agree that processing the
information with our fingers would just as validly be considered reading as
processing the information with our eyes and, in that instance, there is no
controversy. However, the wording sometimes changes when we shift from print on
a page to either a human narrator or a synthetic voice coming from a pair of
speakers or from our portable phones and tablets. If I consumed a book by
listening to it with an app such as Voice Dream Reader, am I wrong to say that
I’ve read the book? Most blind people would say that I’m not and I would tend to
agree with them.
let’s say we have an individual who is blind who never learned how to read
Braille. There are some valid reasons for why they might not have been taught
how to read and write in Braille, such as having neuropathy in their fingers
which would prevent them from being able to distinguish the dot patterns. In
such a case, this blind individual would only be able to consume books in an
audible format. Considering this, would we look at that blind person who didn’t
know Braille and conclude, if only to ourselves, that this person was
illiterate. We might not say that to their face in the course of normal
conversation but do we consider a blind person who doesn’t know Braille to be
illiterate? If the answer to that question is yes then can we say that this
blind person, not knowing Braille, has “read” a book when it was consumed by
listening. If we say no, then why is it acceptable for me to say that I’ve read
a book and my hypothetical blind person could not say that, just because I can
read Braille and he cannot.
take this a step further and consider a fully sighted person who, for one reason
or another, never learned how to read print. There’s no doubt that we would
conclude that this person would be considered illiterate. Saying so is not meant
as an insult but, in this case, is indisputable; someone who can’t read is
illiterate. My hypothetical blind person might not have the ability to learn
Braille and the sighted person could, with proper training, learn how to read
print but, until that individual chooses to take classes in how to read, we
would all agree that he’s illiterate. Given that fact, would we tend to disagree
with the illiterate sighted person if he told us that he “read” a particular
book by consuming it in an audible medium? Wouldn’t we think, “No, you didn’t
really read that book, you listened to it.” If this is the case, then why is it
OK for me, as a blind person who knows Braille, to tell people that I may have
read the same book by consuming it in the exact same way but yet fewer people
would think of challenging my word choices.
this isn’t the most important topic which should concern us. I don’t think about
it all that much and it certainly doesn’t keep me up at night. However, I think
these issues are important as it has really forced me to think about what we
mean when we speak of what it means to be literate.
an aside, the person who brought up this topic is one of the proprietors
of Speeddots, which sells various tactile
screen protectors for your Apple iDevice. They also sell various Bluetooth
accessories as well as rugged lightning cables with a life-time warranty.
how do you feel about this? For you, does listening to an audio book qualify as
reading it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019
On 3/6/2020 6:21 PM, Ron Canazzi wrote:
I don't want to personalize this, but you say
you're a good
Braille reader now: correct? You say that people who
use audio primarily aren't truly literate and you can tell by the way they
write e-mails: is that what you're saying? Well let me be your teacher
and quote and correct your own mistakes that you have made in your lengthy
<spelling error> aAmen(I guess you are
trying to say Amen to that or something similar--note the repetition of the
first letter A.)
<grammatical clumsiness> if you don't braille
than you are not truly literate. (I guess you mean: if you don't know/use/are
competent in, Braille then you are not truly literate.)
sentence> If you doubt this then read emails from blind people who don't
know braille there spelling and (There should be a period after the word
<spelling error> gramar and punctuation leave alot to
be desired. (In this sentence grammar and a lot are misspelled.)
<run on sentence> I have been there myself if I don't read then
I to will fall in to trap as well. (There should be a period after the
If you truly want to be literate then you just have
<spelling error> toread and not just listen to audio. (there
is a run on word toread that should be separated into 'to read.')
us who do prefer braille and would rather read than listen have only
audio as the option all to often. For me if I want to stay literate then I
have to read braille and as I said in my email to Grumpy Dave I can't
<spelling error> amagine my life with out braille. (I guess
you mean 'imagine my life without Braille.)
<wrong use of the word
loose> I have had braille most of my life and I would loose independence (I
guess you mean lose independence.)
<spelling error> ifI were to
not know braille. (You ran the words If and I together.)
Reading braille is active reading but listening to audio or computer
speech is just passive reading.
I prefer to <spelling error>
activly read but most of the time I can't because it's audio only. (You
<spelling errors and a run on sentence> I
do rember haveing to cary volumes of braille books acrost campus at the blind
school but I never gave it a though it was just what I hav to do it was no
problem for me at all. (You misspelled remember, having, across
and probably mean the word had when you wrote hav. And I almost forgot, you
used the word though instead of thought.) (There should be a period
after the word thought.)
The campus at the Michigan school for the
blind in Lansing Michigan covered a 4 city block area. I tried college
back in 1987-1988 and I could have
<spelling error> donee much
better if I had braille. (You misspelled the word done.)
<spelling errors> I had tapes from recording forthe blind but I
had issues with the readers with pronouncations. (you ran the
words for and the together. You misspelled pronunciation.)
remember taking test and what I heard during the test sounded nothing like
what I heard on the tapes.
If I would have had my books in braille I
would have known the correct words and the tests would have made <spelling
error> sinse. (You misspelled the word sense.)
error> If yur going to read on tape then you must be able to speak properly
and say your words properly. (You misspelled the word you're--or
at least I think that's what you meant by writing the word yur.)
<grammatical oddity> There was the issue of only tape at a time
and having to send 2 copies of every book to recording for the blind to be
recorded. (I'm not quite sure, but I think you meant 'only one tape at a
<spelling error> Audio is usless if I don't know what you
are saying. (You misspelled useless.)
This is why we need
braille. Braille readers don't make a big deal of how many volumes a
book is it just is.
LONG STORY SHORT: BRIAN, YOU ARE A POOR
EXAMPLE OF THE IDEA THAT BRAILLE READERS WRITE COHERENT AND GRAMATICALLY
CORRECT E-MAIL MESSAGES.
On 3/6/2020 3:01 PM, brian wrote:
aAmen if you don't braille than you are not truly
literate. If you doubt this then read emails from blind people who don't
know braille there spelling and gramar and punctuation leave alot to be
desired. I have been there myself if I don't read then I to will fall
in to trap as well. If you truly want to be literate then you just
have toread and not just listen to audio. Those of us who do
prefer braille and would rather read than listen have only audio as the
option all to often. For me if I want to stay literate then I have to read
braille and as I said in my email to Grumpy Dave I can't amagine my life
with out braille. I have had braille most of my life and I would loose
independence ifI were to not know braille. Reading braille is active
reading but listening to audio or computer speech is just passive
reading. I prefer to activly read but most of the time I can't because
it's audio only. I do rember haveing to cary volumes of braille books
acrost campus at the blind school but I never gave it a though it was just
what I hav to do it was no problem for me at all. The campus at the
Michigan school for the blind in Lansing Michigan covered a 4 city block
area. I tried college back in 1987-1988 and I could have donee much
better if I had braille. I had tapes from recording forthe blind but I
had issues with the readers with pronouncations. I remember taking
test and what I heard during the test sounded nothing like what I heard on
the tapes. If I would have had my books in braille I would have known
the correct words and the tests would have made sinse. If yur going to
read on tape then you must be able to speak properly and say your words
properly. There was the issue of only tape at a time and having to
send 2 copies of every book to recording for the blind to be recorded.
Audio is usless if I don't know what you are saying. This is why we need
braille. Braille readers don't make a big deal of how many volumes a
book is it just is.
On 3/6/2020 7:26 AM,
chris judge wrote:
This is true. There is a huge difference between
not learning braille if you've lost your site later in life. The
unfortunate fact is that even people who are blind since birth are not
learning braille at the rate they were when I was a kid 50 years ago. If
you are blind since birth and you don't learn braille you miss out on
basic literacy. How do you learn proper spelling, grammar, punctuation and
such if you don't learn braile. If you have had site you already
understand these things so knowing braille isn't as paramount.
From: main@TechTalk.groups.io mailto:main@TechTalk.groups.io
On Behalf Of Victor
Sent: March 6, 2020 12:42 AM
Subject: Re: [TechTalk] warning if you doing business
I would like to point out that many blind people lose
their eyesight later in life and they find it too difficult to learn
braille. It is much easier for them to access information by listening to
audio. It’s hard enough for them to get over losing their eyesight and
live without seeing their loved ones or other things ever again. The last
thing they want is to learn a new skill that they may find just too
After obtaining my iPhone, I attended a users group
where are the people taught each other to use iOS devices. While at the
group one day, one of the group leaders brought a focus 40 refreshable
braille display for everyone to examine. I was the only blind person in
the room interested in touching the device because I knew braille and I
owned a previous generation of that device. It was not discussed, but I
knew that they were not interested because most of them had lost their
eyesight later in life. I suspect that they found it much easier to listen
to audio than reading braille. Plus, most of them had learned how to
access information using their iPhones. I’m sure they found it much easier
to whip out their iPhones and listen to their books, podcasts, scan
documents and do everything else we can do with our iPhones. I realize
that not everyone owns a smart phone because they have not found a way to
obtain one. I also realize that not everyone is into these types of
gadgets. However, many blind people have discovered how great these
gadgets are and how useful they can be in helping them become more
independent. For many of us, that is the route we have chosen.
any case, don’t be too surprised if you meet a blind person who is not
interested in learning braille. Don’t be too hard on those people. Maybe
they just prefer to do what is easier.
I am so glad that
refreshable braille displays exist now. I am also glad that low cost
refreshable braille displays are being developed. I definitely don’t miss
the days of carrying bulky braille books to and from my classes. I do not
miss the days of trying to look up words in the dictionary and dealing
with a whole bookshelf of braille books. No thank you! I do not miss my
five volume braille New Testament.
If I did not already on a
refreshable braille display, I would definitely look into obtaining the
orbit braille reader or the braille me.
Anyhow, these are just
my rambling opinions.
Victor Sent from my iPhone
On Mar 5, 2020, at 7:40 PM, brian mailto:bsackrider55@...
Thanks Grumpy Dave for your
explination. I would be willing to pay a few dollars to get
braille. I am not saying that I should get for free but not to have the
option is my complaint. My local liberary use to provide braille
for 10 cents per page. I was also told that if I provided
the paper they would braille what I wanted. They required 67
weight paper which I can get at Staples. All to often we are
forced to except only audio as the only format that is available.
Braille will always be my prefered format because I prefer to read for
myself instead of just listen. You say that you hate braille but
you can use it well I feel the same about audio. Why do we have to be
locked in to just one format? How many people would rather read
than listen? Blind or sighted. People who prefer to read than
should be commended instead of being kind of bashed for it. If not
many blind people request braille than it should be no trouble to
provide it. Braille is not that dificult to produce once you have the
equipment. my liberary had no trouble all they needed was files in
microsoft word and the paper and they were good to go. I use to
get my weekly meterials for my church all in grade 2 braille. It was
really great to finally be an active participant in the service instead
just a pasive listener. To be able to read along with everyone
else the verses and hyms and classes lessons is a great feeling you just
can't discribe the independence that it givesyou. It's kind of
like having access to dvs you can finally know what is going on when
there is all of that dead air. I was able to read infront of the
church and be active in bible study and even lead the groop all using
braille. I do use braille menus when ever possible even if I don't
really need it just to let them see that somone is acually using
it. Braille has given me a very full life and I don't know whear
my life would be with out braille. I feel that every blind person
who is able to read braille should learn it. I do understand that
there are blind people who have medical conditions that prevents them
from being able to read braille. For them they have no choice but
to use audio but I do have the choice I just don't like being limited to
just audio only and not braille. You hate braille and I hate
audio. a good example of when I wish that I had braille instead of
a file was when I requested my local newspaper to be accessable.
my lions club purchassed a sara reading machine for me there was no
braille manual but there was a print manual. I had to go to the
help file on the machine and try to find what I wanted. When I
called the paper office they asked what files my machine could
read. If I had a braille manual I could have just looked it up
while on the phone and gave them the answer. I had to call back
after I went to the help file and found it. This is very time
concuming I can look up somthing much faster in braille than any other
format. I am not saying that I can do it as quick as a sighted
person can with print but for me it's the fastest way for me to get the
job done. When I was a kid I attended the Michigan school the
blind in Lansing and we had to learn braille and all of our books were
in braille. There was no I don't want to learn it you had
to. I will say that I can certainly listen much faster than I can
read but when it comes to looking up somthing braille is faster hands
down. I have been blind since birth and thats all I ever knew was
braille. It's like the sighted grew up with print. I wanted to
learn the opticon at the rehab center but they would not let me because
they said that I was not fast enough. I felt that I was learning
and making progress and I should had the right to continue but they said
no. If somone really wants to learn a new skil then they should
beallowed to do so. If I am determind to learn somthing that then
I will even though it might take more time then the teacher would
like. I guess that modavation means nothing. If somone
reallly wants to learn braille so what ifit takes several month to do so
they should not be told no you can't continue. If companies had
the equipment to produce braille they could charge me for the cost of
the paper to get braille manuals or catalogs.
On 3/5/2020 9:26 PM, Dave wrote:
I have nothing against Braille other than the
hassle it is to create
it, such as a Manual in Braille.
I've been blind for a long time now, and there were many
times when I
would have Kissed the Feet of anyone who gave me a
manual in Audio
format. many times have I had to just Wing
it, learning by Guess and
by Golly. Once Computers became a
Tool for the Blind, Guessing was
not always the best thing to do,
as guessing wrong could ruin your
day in a Big way. Still
but, Brian, I have no Beef with Braille.
To produce it is just not an
easy task. And I would guess
that most manufacturers of items for
the blind, may not want to
hire another Staff member to do nothing
but print out Manuals in
Yes, it all sounds good, until the costs of doing
such a thing is
These days, I do expect a
Manual at least in a PDF format, if not an
Audio file. And
if I own my own Braille Printer, I can then print
out the PDF
Although, I can't afford one of those printers, so I
However, I could run the Audio file
through an Audio to Text
converter, and then print that file out
When I get nothing but an On Line Manual,
where I need to go On Line
to read the thing. I am Thankful
for at least that much, but I
always look to see if I can just
download the manual so I don't need
to be going On Line so much.
Call it my personal Taste.
I would think most
who are Blind have learned over and over again to
look for Work
Arounds for doing many things in Life.
You like Braille,
and while I do use it, I Hate it. So a Braille
be a waste of resources to send me one.
You Love it, and
can use it well. So, when the Company doesn't send
in Braille, but has sent you one in PDF, or even Audio, if
want a manual in Braille, the Work around is to convert that Audio or
PDF file into Braille. And if you are like me, and
can't afford a
Braille Printer, there are Services that will take
your Manual file
and make you a manual in Braille.
may cost you a few dollars, which again is all part of the Life of
someone who is Blind. In the past, I have hired Readers to
Manuals on Tape. Paid them $10 for every hour of
I've paid people to read my Mail.
This was before smart Phones had
built in Cameras and OCR
programs. I paid them $10 an hour too. this
in the 1980's and 90's.
I haven't had to hire anyone for
about 20 years now
And Dare I bring up the Quality of
Manuals? So often, regardless of
what Format it comes in,
the information in the thing is totally Nuts!
It doesn't make
Sense, and you can't tell if it is a Translation of
Chinese to English, or from Chinese to Spanish and then
and then to English etc.
And some manuals that come in
English are so poorly written, lack
helpful information and
seem to be missing a great deal of actual
information and are next to useless in any format.