Celebrating World Braille Day at RNC

Left to right – Jade, Tom and Chloe are standing outside the student hub. Tom is in the middle with his arms around the shoulders of the girls.

World Braille Day is celebrated internationally on 4 January, the birth date of its inventor Louis Braille. Here, at The Royal National College for the Blind (RNC), we are proud to be the only place in the UK offering an accredited BTEC qualification in braille and this is offered to all of our younger learners aged 16-25 as part of their individualised timetable.

 

First year student Tom Nevens, 16, from Cardiff only started learning braille in September and says “I’ve always wanted to learn Braille but never had the chance before; it’s another way to read something. I sometimes think of it as a secret code, like it’s been written by Ian Fleming as a device for James Bond!”

 

Jade Puckering, 16, from East Riding in Yorkshire is now a keen braillist and explains “Before I learned braille I was struggling to read large print and because I have tunnel vision I was really straining my neck while trying to read. Thanks to braille I picked up a book for the first time, not because I had to but because I wanted to. It was a Tracy Beaker book and I remember my mum was really shocked to see me reading – braille gave me the ability to enjoy reading.”

 

16 year old Chloe Cotterrell from Hereford had learned some braille previously but at RNC she has been able to formalise her learning by achieving BTEC Level 1 in braille “I had to get my head around learning braille again but soon got back into it. It’s nice to know that I have something there in case something does go wrong. Technology is great but it’s not always practical for things like writing notes and labels.”

 

Ginny is sitting at her desk in the braille classroom, on her left hand side she has a Perkins Brailler and on her right she has a computer and is resting one hand on the brailler and the other on the edge of the keyboard.

Braille teacher, Ginny Evans

Ginny Evans has been working at RNC for 24 years, 15 of them as a braille teacher, and explains how her life changed when she lost her sight “I was fully sighted until the age of 26, when I was diagnosed with a rare condition known as Bechet’s Disease and I gradually lost my sight over the course of eight years. I never thought that I would work again because I couldn’t read or write. I came to RNC as a student and learned braille, now as a braille teacher at RNC I am able to give the new students the opportunity I had to be literate.”

 

In a study by Douglas et al in 2006, 66% of people, of working age, registered as blind and partially sighted were unemployed. Ginny says “When you’re visually impaired you need as many skills as you can get to make you employable – Braille gives you more flexibility and gives you more opportunity in the workplace.”

 

In the technology versus braille debate, Ginny sits on the fence and says that she is in favour of both “I use a computer with speech software equally as much as I use braille but having them both together gives you everything you need. Anything people use a pen and paper for, I use braille – even helping to organise my daughter’s wedding!”

 

Read more about studying braille at RNC and view all the courses on offer at RNC

If you have any questions, please call our Student Enquiries team on 01432 376 621 or email info@rnc.ac.uk

Article written by Bik Lee, Digital Media Officer at RNC