WISCONSIN BRAILLE NEWSLETTER
Volume 9, Issue 2
The purpose of Wisconsin Braille Inc. is to advance communication and coordinate the efforts of all persons concerned with the availability, quality, and distribution of brailled materials in the state of Wisconsin thereby encouraging braille literacy.
Foibles and Fun
by Beth Allred
[Editors note: Beth has been blind since infancy. She is a music major at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.]
I have finally reached my senior year of college. That prospect both excites and scares me. I will graduate and then I will leave Wisconsin to attend Graduate School. There will be new hurdles to climb, new experiences to broaden my outlook on life, and of course, there will be new people to bother. I will miss those whom I leave behind most desperately. My family foremost, as they’ve stuck with me with only small complaints for years. I will also miss those wonderful people who provide me braille, as no one will ever do it so well or with such love as they do here in Madison.
As technology grows more powerful and more complicated, hardcopy braille is becoming less used in the classroom. I myself use it rarely in the classroom setting anymore. Every semester, I ask my professors to provide me with materials in word or txt file formats so I can put them on a flash drive and then on my braille note, where I can use its braille display to read my books. They also provide me with a list of music (if their class is a music one) so that I can send it to Lindy Walton to have her braille it for me. Last year, I finally figured out how to work my braille Embosser so instead of McBurney Disability Resource Center embossing it, Lindy sends it directly to me. This saves a lot of time. Lindy completes a piece, sends it through to me by email, and I emboss it directly from my computer. The whole process is speedy and too cool for words.
The only braille material I’ve had recently besides music was for a Physics in the Arts course I took last semester. Since I’d already had Physics in high school, I thought that this was no big deal. I could work with the other students when there were activities involving pictures and graphs. The physics department had other ideas. They called a meeting, without consulting me as to whether we needed one or not. They told me they wanted me to have a lab assistant as it wasn’t the TA’s responsibility to give me extra help. They didn’t want the other students to suffer because an instructor had to take time to describe things to me. Needless to say, I was angry. I had discussed my issues with the professor before class had begun, and I thought that everything was fine. I was mostly angry at how they had gone over my head to contact McBurney as an intermediary. They apparently concluded that I didn’t know how to adapt a class so I could participate equally with the other students.
I got my lab assistant, who turned out to be invaluable and who I believe saved my grade. I also after discussing it with the professor had my exams brailled and the pictures drawn tactually so that I had the same chance as the other students to analyze them. The class was a good experience for me as it taught me that not everyone will listen even though I am advocating for myself. Not everyone will trust that I know what will work best for me. There is a time to act and there is a time to put up and be quiet. I put up and kept quiet. It was more important for me to get through the class alive then it was for me to battle with the department for what I thought of as discrimination.
My sophomore year I took a Survey of Western Music History course. My exams for that class were brailled as well, and as I needed extra time, I would take the exams in the staff lounge upstairs near my professor’s office.
At this time, we had no one to check the braille at McBurney to make sure it had embossed correctly. One day, I received my exam only to find that it didn’t make any sense. Letters were garbled across the page, and I believe I found signs not yet invented in the braille code on that paper. I called McBurney to find out that the person who handled the embossing had gone on vacation for the weekend and I was stuck. My professor and I agreed that I would simply take the exam on the following Monday when we could get a correct version. Monday morning, I arrived in his office and we walked to the staff lounge. He placed the exam in front of me and I took a look at the first page. Again I found garbled and nonsensical braille. I made an inarticulate sound of frustration and my professor began to laugh. He placed another exam on the table and told me that he just wanted to see what I would do when handed the faulty exam. I will always remember him for that, for being able to laugh at me and at the system. I do it every day, so why shouldn't other people.
College has been an experience that has taught me a lot about myself. I’ve learned that there is no one who knows what I need better than I do, so I’d be wise to advocate for myself. Any situation is adaptable and I’ve learned to be flexible and creative enough to fix classroom or homework problems that might come up. Braille is always something that can be used to simplify or clarify things for me. I use it every day to read music. At the restaurant where I sing, Romano's Macaroni Grill in Greenway Station, I have used it to make a floor chart so I could find my way around the room to different tables. I have even taught some of the waiters and waitresses I work with how to write dirty words in braille on my Braille Note. Braille will always be the best way in which I learn, an old friend that I can rely on. It has helped me immensely in college and I am sure it will continue to do so as I go onward towards my Masters degree and then wherever I choose to travel after school is finally finished. Thank you for allowing me to write down my experiences for you. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and I’ll be sure to update you as the years pass.
J Oh, those OSCI braillists! J
First person in state to certify in all four transcribing disciplines!
Congratulations to Dennis H., an inmate at the Oshkosh Correctional Institution, who has passed all of the certifications available to braillists. He was first certified in Literary Braille in 2002. In 2005 he successfully passed the Nemeth (math and science) examination, and in 2007 he passed examinations in both Music and Formatting!
But, the competition is hot on his heels. Both Jason F. and Satyaki S. have passed Literary, Nemeth and Formats
Jeff H., who has been released, passed Literary, Music and Formats.
Josh J. has passed Literary and is studying the music course.
David F. is Literary certified and is studying Nemeth.
Jeremy B. is literary certified, as is Chris D. who recently received 100% on his literary manuscript. He and others are studying the advanced courses.
Dustin E., Brian H., and Ryan B. are new students progressing well through the literary lessons.
And last, but hardly least, is Kurt Pamperin, coordinator of the braille program. Kurt, who is not to be outdone by those he supervises, is very close to finishing the course and is looking forward to working on his manuscript.
Congratulations to you all--we are so proud of you. Keep up the good work.
Wisconsin Braille, Inc.
The next meeting of the Board of Directors of Wisconsin Braille Inc. will be held on November 3rd at the Middleton Public Library at 10:00. All are welcome.
Have you heard about VBTI?
Volunteer Braillists and Tapists, Inc. is based in Madison, right behind Hilldale Mall. We have nearly 2,000 braille books in our library available for loan, and most can also be purchased. We have print/braille books, which are picture books with braille added; braille-only books for children and teens; lots of cookbooks and knitting and crochet patterns; adult fiction and non-fiction books; and some textbooks. Our entire catalog is available in braille, print and online. If you’d like to use our library, just tell us your contact information. We’ll also send you an annual list of the new books we’ve added.
We will transcribe your own print materials into braille, like the books already mentioned, and instruction manuals, menus, informational pamphlets, greeting cards, or almost anything else you need or want for daily life and enjoyment.
We love having visitors and you are welcome to come browse our shelves and see what we do anytime. We’re open 9:00-4:00 Monday through Friday.
If you’re interested in becoming a braille transcriber yourself and live in the Madison area, we can help you towards your certification through the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. The cost for local training is minimal and you can work from home once certified.
We also record print materials to tape for purchase. We do not have a listening library.
Please spread the word about us! Most people discover us through word of mouth. We want to make sure that everyone who can use us knows of this great resource. We service all of Wisconsin, the United States, and Canada.
Volunteer Braillists and Tapists, Inc.
517 N. Segoe Rd. No. 200
Madison, WI 53705
[If you would like to advertise your organization and/or services, send article to Wisconsin Braille Inc., Newsletter editor, 5263 Anna Lane, Middleton, WI 53562]
Gleanings from the Internet
Look what's happening in Great Britain
BAMBI is a newly formed group aiming to promote the use of the two tactile reading systems currently in use in the UK. The two systems are Braille and Moon.
Most people have heard of Braille as a system of touch reading formed by dots, but are unaware that over the last twenty years the teaching of this system has been sadly neglected, so much so that there are less than 10,000 readers in the UK.
The other touch reading system, Moon, is little-known. Although now read by only some 600 people in the UK, it is more easily read by people who do not have the sensitivity in their fingers to read Braille.
Until recently the cost of producing Moon was expensive as each letter shape had to be formed individually using a punch and die. However, a new system has been developed using the dots which form Braille to create the shapes used in Moon.
BAMBI aims to encourage the learning and use of both systems by producing Braille and Moon books following the courses available in the UK. It is intended to make these books available free of charge to groups and individuals learning either system. For more information go to: http://www.nawg.co.uk/bambi.htm
What is Moon?
The Moon system of embossed reading was invented in 1845 by Dr. William Moon of East Sussex.
This is a simple method based upon the standard alphabet. The Moon alphabet is made up of 14 characters used at various angles, each with a clear bold outline. An "a," for example, looks like an inverted "v." The letters c, i, j, l, n, o, u, v and z are formed of lines that look just like their print counterparts. It is produced on a Moon Writer, somewhat like a Perkins Braille Writer.
For many elderly blind people and those who go blind later in life it is difficult to master the small dots of the braille system. For such people Moon offers an easier alternative system. Many adult readers, having acquired confidence and a sense of achievement by learning Moon, gradually move to the more comprehensive braille system.
More Free Books from Wisbrl
Once again, Wisconsin Braille Inc. is pleased to offer a selection of braille books for your school library because of grant money awarded us. As in the past, the committee has chosen books that are not already brailled. We searched the on-line catalog in our local library, as well as other sources, to locate recognized books of excellence. The committee hopes that the selection meets your readers’ needs and welcomes your suggestions of titles not already brailled for next year’s selection.
You may continue to order early readers in either contracted or uncontracted braille. Indicate your preference on the order form.
Our current selections are:
Blue Jasmine by Kashimira Sheth
When twelve‑year‑old Seema moves to Iowa City with her parents and younger sister, she leaves friends and family behind in her native India but gradually begins to feel at home in her new country. For grades 6 and up.
A Day with Daddy by Nikki Grimes
A boy enjoys every moment of a special day with his father, as they play in the park, share French fries, and see a movie together. At the end of the day he is glad to be home but a little bit sad because it won’t be until next week that he sees his dad again. For beginning readers; print/braille copy available.
The Edmund Fitzgerald by Kathy-Jo Wargin
Leaving port from Superior, Wisconsin, on a sunny November day, the crew of the Edmund Fitzgerald is looking forward to a routine crossing of the deep Lake Superior. But disaster is building in the wind as a storm begins to track after the great ship. This retelling of the last hours of the doomed vessel pays homage to all sailors who traverse deep waters, in fair skies and foul. For Grades 3-5.
Fred Stays with Me! by Nancy Coffelt
Sometimes I live with my Mom. Sometimes I live with my Dad. But Fred stays with me. Divorce isn’t easy, but it helps when you have a pet like Fred even though he is such a troublemaker at times! For beginning readers, Grades 1-2.
Grandpa’s Face by Eloise Greenfield
Tamika loves her grandfather. But sometimes her grandfather’s face is not the gentle face that she trusts, and one day when Tamika sees him rehearsing for a play, she suddenly sees a face she’s never seen before. Could this angry stranger really be her grandfather? For Grades 2-4.
Where the Heart Is (from the Amazing Days of Abby Hayes series)
by Anne Mazer
Oh, no … the Hayes family is moving! Abby won’t have to switch schools, but she’ll have to leave behind her purple room and live miles away from all of her friends. The only good thing about the move is that Abby and her siblings are united against it … until her sibs see their new swimming pool, that is. Will Abby’s new house ever feel like home? For Grades 3-6.
Naming Maya by Uma Krishnaswami
Although Maya has done her best to avoid it, she is spending part of her summer in India. She is thrust into an ocean of memories and forced to examine the history of her parent’s divorce--all the more painful because she believes the trouble began with the choosing of her name. For Grades 6-8.
P.J. Funnybunny Camps Out by Marilyn Sadler
Although P.J. and his friends refuse to let Donna and Honey Bunny go camping with them because "camping is not for girls," the girls follow and get proof that camping is hard work even for boys. For beginning readers; print/braille copy available.
Pupniks, The Story of Two Space Dogs by S. Ruth Lubka
Pupniks is the true story of two Russian dogs, Belka and Strelka, who in 1960 orbited Earth in the space satellite Sputnik 5. Along with an assortment of other small animals, the dogs were the first living creatures to return from space alive. This success helped to pave the way for human space travel. For Grades 3-6.
The Silenced by James Devita
In a world filled with sanctions and restrictions, Marena struggles to remember the past: a time before the Zero Tolerance Party, before listening devices were in every home, before citizens were forbade to read or write, when she was free. In the spirit of her revolutionary mother, Marena forms her own resistance group--the White Rose. For advanced readers: grades eight and up.
Tangled Threads, A Hmong Girl’s Story by Pegi Deitz Shea
After 10 long years in a refugee camp in Thailand, 13-year-old Mai Yang and her grandmother join the family in Providence, Rhode Island. Mai Yang soon discovers that adjusting to a new life isn’t easy. Drawn to both the Hmong traditions of her past and the excitement promised by the present, she wonders if she will ever find a way to untangle the threads of her life and weave them together into her own story. For Grades 6-9.
Win One for the Gipper by Kathy-Jo Wargin
Like most boys growing up in Michigan in the early 1900s, George Gipp enjoyed playing sports. His athletic skills set him apart from others. He was awarded a baseball scholarship to the University of Notre Dame. An afternoon’s horseplay with a football, however, brings George to the attention of assistant football coach Knute Rockne, and Notre Dame football is transformed forever. This is the inspiring story of the legendary George Gipp. For Grades 3-5.
Please remember to submit your order by November 30, 2007, using the following order form. Teachers, please feel free to distribute this information to the parents of your students so they can order as well. You are also able to locate our book offerings, both past and current, on our web site: www.wisbrl.org. Thanks!
Alison McKee and Sandy Adams,
Coordinators of the Special Book Project
Wisconsin Braille Inc.
Special Book Project Order Form
Check here if you have ordered from us in the past. _____ Cust. ID (if known) _______
Name: __________________________________________ Phone: _____________
New Address: ________________________________________________________
_____ Blue Jasmine by Kashimira Sheth
_____ A Day with Daddy by Nikki Grimes (print/braille)
_____ The Edmund Fitzgerald by Kathy-Jo Wargin
_____ Fred Stays with Me! by Nancy Coffelt
_____ Grandpa’s Face by Eloise Greenfield
_____ Home Is Where the Heart Is by Anne Mazer
_____ Naming Maya by Uma Krishaswami
_____ P. J. Funnybunny Camps Out by Marilyn Sadler (print/braille)
_____ Pupniks, The Story of Two Space Dogs by S. Ruth Lubka
_____ The Silenced by James Devita
_____ Tangled Threads, A Hmong Girl’s Story by Pegi Deitz Shea
_____ Win One for the Gipper by Kathy-Jo Wargin
Additional books from previous years: (see compiled list on web site: www.wisbrl.org)
You may order up to five.
Suggestions for next year:
(Please request specific books that are not already done in braille. Thanks!)
By November 30, 2007, send order to:
Kurt Pamperin, Coordinator
OSCI Braille Program
1730 Snell Road
Oshkosh, WI 54903-3530
The Wisconsin Braille newsletter is published three times a year. Deadlines are: Spring/Summer – May 1, Fall – September 1, Winter – December 15
The purpose of this newsletter is to disperse information. Wisconsin Braille Inc. does not endorse or vouch for the reliability of any of the persons, organizations, or products appearing in this publication.
Wisconsin Braille Inc. welcomes letters from readers on all subjects concerning braille and blindness. Publication of letters will be at the editor’s discretion. Letters must be signed, but names will be withheld upon request.
Use the following form to join or renew your membership to Wisconsin Braille Inc. Please make checks and money orders payable to: WISCONSIN BRAILLE INC.
Regular membership, annual dues: $10
Sustaining membership, annual dues: $30
Lifetime membership: $200
Please include: the date, your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. Also advise if you wish printed material to be sent to you in regular type, e-mail or braille.
Please answer the following: What is your affiliation with the braille-reading community? (List all that apply.) Teacher, educational assistant, transcriber, proofreader, administrator, producer, parent, user, other (specify).
Return application and payment to: Wisconsin Braille Inc., Membership Chair,
5263 Anna Lane, Middleton, WI 53562
This version of the Wisconsin Braille newsletter was prepared by the members of the OSCI Braille Program. It has not been proofread. Readers are encouraged to report noted errors to: Wisconsin Braille Newsletter, Editor, P.O. Box 45076, Madison, WI 53744-5076.