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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Learning about Braille - Thank you, Roger Chard!

The last time Nels’s “mormor” and partner Roger came to visit, Roger read a special book that was printed in Braille. He was also kind enough to supply each child with a sheet of special paper with the Braille alphabet, plus all of our names printed out. This was enough to spark SO MANY QUESTIONS from our curious students! How was this done? Did it take a long time? What kinds of machines were used? Where they expensive? And lots more besides.

Roger and Maurita were kind enough to promise another visit, this time bringing some of the materials and machines used to print in Braille, and also to demonstrate how Roger often listens to books. We listened to text at various speeds to learn that we could, with practice, train our ears to gather information at a faster pace.

We learned the first boards and slates had 34 cells in a line. They were pretty heavy and kind of clunky to carry around.  After looking at that one, we then saw this little one - only 28 cells, and it doesn't need a board.    
Here Roger is showing us a manual Braille typewriter. 
We also saw several books, include one volume of the dictionary. The complete set has 72 volumes!

After they left, I read a sweet picture book to learn even more about Braille, and about the young inventor/innovator named Louis. This charming book called Six Dots, written by Jen Bryant, is a lovely addition for my shelves – I’m happy to have an excuse to purchase it. It was exciting for the students to see the very boards, slates, and styluses that Roger had us handle illustrated in the pages of the book! And I think children always love to hear about inventors who were children themselves. In the author’s note, Bryant states: “In the past several centuries, no one so young has developed something that has had such a lasting and profound impact on so many people.” It really is remarkable.

Many, many thanks to Roger and Maurita for another wonderful visit. We hope they come back again next year!

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