Braillers and Braillewriting

Peanut is a huge Sesame Street fan.  HUGE.  Given that I am an inveterate muppet-lover, this is not a problem for me (even though I did, once upon a time, look upon Elmo as “the furry red interloper” who had taken my beloved Grover’s rightful place*).  Being the advocate for a vision-impaired little boy, I’d noticed that even though Sesame Street had almost every other type of person featured on one show or another, whether as a main character ala Traction Jackson and Linda or a background player, except for blind children.  With the notable exception of luminaries like Stevie Wonder, I couldn’t remember ever seeing a blind person on Sesame Street

This week, Efrit let me know that he’d seen a segment with Elmo where he was talking to a blind child who explained what it was like being blind.  I was ecstatic!  Peanut’s favorite muppet of all time is Elmo, as evidenced by the flock of Elmos currently inhabiting my and my parents’ homes. I tried to find the video on YouTube and SesameStreet.org, but no dice.  I did, however, find a video of a blind little girl, Lauren, taking us through a day at her school.

I have no idea how to embed video, so I’ve got a link to the Web site instead:  http://www.sesamestreet.org/video_player/-/pgpv/videoplayer/0/3c5d5624-155b-11dd-a62f-919b98326687

Let me tell you what–this little girl can book it on that brailler!!  I love the inclusive classroom, the braille alphabet up on the board next to the print alphabet that decorates so many schoolrooms, her impressive reading speed and the evidence of her normalcy surrounded by sighted kids.  I am in awe of her speed on that brailler, too!  For those who haven’t yet had the experience, using a braillewriter isn’t the same as typing on a keyboard: you have to push the levers for each cell simultaneously for the letter you want rather than typing one key per letter like with a print keyboard.  It’s challenging!  And she’s so FAST!!!!!  I dream of being able to read and write braille this quickly–and I hope that I can teach Peanut to be as adept as she is.  If you want an example of an inclusive classroom with a mainstreamed little girl, this is a good video to check out.

* I learned earlier this year that Elmo has an unfair advantage with the preschool set:  he’s red.  The first color we’re able to see as our vision develops is red.  No wonder the little guy’s so popular!

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