Here is a little article Alexia did for the “The Educator”, which is an International Magazine for Blind People
MY LIFE IN DOTS
My name is Alexia Sloane. I live in Cambridge with my parents who are both teachers and my sister. I am a Braille user, and in this article I will be writing about Braille, what it does for me, and how long I have known it. I started learning Braille when I was four at nursery school in France, and, after a year and a half, I was reading and writing almost fluently. I am now eleven, so I’ve known it for seven years. I was taught Braille through memory, because I had to remember the combinations of keys for all the letters.
I use Braille for a range of different things: firstly, reading, (I can’t survive without books!) Secondly, writing, (I LOVE doing this.) Thirdly, music. (I play the recorder and the piano, so I need to be able to sight read.) Without Braille, I couldn’t do any of these things.
I have a Braille Apex, (a talking Braille computer) which I use for almost every subject, as well as for leisure. For example: In English, the Apex is what I use to write on. In maths, I use the Apex’s calculator. In Science, I also write on the Apex. In languages, I can make the Apex write and speak in English, French, Spanish, German and Italian. Moving on to leisure, the Apex has internet and email on it, so I can keep in touch with pen-friends and the like.
If I had to choose some things I love about Braille, they would be: It enables me to read, one of my greatest passions. It allows me to write, which I have always loved doing. It makes it possible for me to read and write music and, because I play the recorder and piano, as well as singing in a church choir, this is very important for me. Also, with the help of Braille maps, I can find my way round places, e.g. school, reasonably easily, which, with a bit of practice, means I won’t get lost when I have to go somewhere alone. Finally, it’s like having a secret code that only I can understand. (I that is, and a few friends.) Sighted people think Braille’s just a jumble of incomprehensible dots, but it’s worth a hundred of their little shapes they call letters.
If I had to choose a few things I would like to change about Braille, they would be: firstly, the people who delete all the Braille contractions without asking. This is very distressing not only for me and all the other blind people of the nation, but also for the teaching assistants and other helpers who have just mastered the contractions people are deleting. Secondly, Braille books in England are extremely bulky. And thirdly, if we are not very careful with Braille, the dots get squashed.
In the future, I would like to become an interpreter in Brussels at the EU. Braille will help me by giving me definitions to words from my computer’s many dictionaries, and by helping me research things for conferences on the internet.
As a conclusion, here is an extract from my Onkyo winning essay from 2010:
The dots I feel are so perfect,
They feel like tiny jewels,
If braille did not exist,
I know I would always fail.
Every dot is like a seed,
The seed of life on which I feed.
Braille is my friend,
Braille is my guide,
So listen to what’s coming next,
Praise the man whose great mind did not rest,
Until my friend,
My best source of fun,
Emerged from his imagination.
How proud I feel,
To be part French,
And share with the King of Braille,
The nationality which carries me,
On a fine golden sail,
of reading, writing and music,
To Louis Braille all hail !
Alexia Sloane 2011