January is braille literacy month in Oklahoma
OKLAHOMA CITY — Literacy—the ability to read and write — is critical to achieving a successful education, career and quality of life. For Oklahomans who are blind, learning to read and write proficiently in braille provides access to the same opportunities.
The Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services provides braille training all year. Staff celebrate Braille Literacy Month in January to create awareness about the importance of braille and its benefits.
“Braille is composed of raised dots which are read with the fingertips,” Tracy Brigham, DRS Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired administrator explained. “The basic unit is an arrangement of six dots, two across and three down. Each dot or combination of dots represent letters of the print alphabet.”
“Once students understand the system, almost everyone can learn to read and write braille,” said Rita Echelle, superintendent for Oklahoma School for the Blind, which is also a DRS division.
The braille equivalent of paper and pencil is the slate and stylus. A braille user inserts paper in the slate and makes tactile dots by pushing the pointed end of the stylus into the paper over evenly spaced depressions in the slate. The paper bulges on the reverse side forming braille cells.
Most braille readers and writers prefer braille devices attached to computers or portable electronic note takers to save and edit text, while braille printers rapidly stamp braille patterns on the page for mass distribution.
All braille training programs offered by Oklahoma School for the Blind and Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired are free of charge to eligible Oklahomans.
OSB provides expert braille instruction as part of comprehensive educational programs for students on campus during the school week, those who commute daily from home and summer school students.
The school’s curriculum meets all state-mandated educational requirements, plus students receive specialized instruction in orientation and mobility, low vision adaptive equipment and technology.
In addition, OSB offers outreach services for students who attend local public schools. their families and educators.
SBVI’s employment and independent living programs help clients adjust to vision loss through services customized for them, including instruction in braille, career planning, orientation and mobility and assistive technology use.
Oklahomans who are 55 years of age or older and legally blind can braille and receive other services through SBVI’s Older Blind Independent Living Program.
SBVI’s Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped mails free books and periodicals in braille and audio formats to Oklahomans who can’t use standard print. The library’s Accessible Instructional Materials Center loans braille, large print textbooks and specialized equipment to public school students with visual disabilities.
Legal blindness occurs when vision with best correction is 20/200 or less or when side vision results in a field restriction of 20 degrees of less.
In Oklahoma, 128,900 individuals reported a visual disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau 's 2019 American Community Survey estimates.
For more information about Oklahoma School for the Blind, visit http://osb.k12.ok.us/ or phone 877-229-7136.
To reach Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, visit https://oklahoma.gov/okdrs/job-seekers/sbvi.html or phone 800-487-4042 to reach the nearest office.
The Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is available at https://www.olbph.org/ or 800-523-0288.
For more information
Jody Harlan, DRS Communications Director