“What do blind people do? I mean, do they have jobs and stuff?”
Our curious Bluey asked this simple question the other day. So we had to find a satisfying answer.
We had been looking for batteries and saw all the tiny batteries designed for hearing aids. This led to a short discussion about hearing aids and how they helped people who could not hear very well by amplifying the sounds around them.
And then we had a conversation about people who have visual impairments. Bluey wanted to know how you could have a job, or read a book, if you were blind. We talked about how people with vision difficulties have all sorts of jobs from doctors to lawyers to artists. Blind people can do almost anything, even read!
But Bluey’s questions lingered. We were driving in our car for most of this conversation, so the description TRDad had for how the Braille alphabet worked was not quite clear to our youngest.
On our way home, we pulled into the parking lot of the Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Vision Impaired. An advantage of living near the state capitol is that we have the offices for many advocacy groups not far from our home. The small offices for the Council of the Blind is right in our neighborhood.
We had no appointment, no knowledge of the Council’s regular working hours, and no expectations. Our best hope was that someone might be able to show us a book in Braille, or something along those lines.
Despite our surprise visit, we were welcomed by the staff from the start. The two women who run the front desk, Heather and Amanda, greeted us and immediately understood how they could help and were eager to do so.
They showed us around the Sharper Vision store where visually impaired people can find items to assist them. We saw all sorts of tools and techniques that help vision impaired people go about their daily lives. They let Bluey listen to a headset that converted websites from text to speech. We saw rulers, knives and other household goods adapted with Braille measures and marks. They showed us clocks and phones that talked out the time or phone numbers (Bluey really liked the talking clocks!)
Best of all, they showed Bluey how the Braille system worked with examples from books and notecards. Amanda even showed Bluey how to run a Braille typewriter- printing his name for him while he watched!
We were so happy to have made this random stop! Heather and Amanda were a wealth of information and very kind. They left us with a handful of Braille bookmarks to give out to friends, and an increased knowledge and understanding of the lives of visually impaired people.
When you and your family have questions, seek out the people in your area who might know the answers. You’ll meet new friends and learn more than you might’ve hoped.