I am a reader and a lover of words. This love led me to pursue not one but two degrees in English Language and Literature and to teach at the college level for several years. It has also led me to an absolute determination that my baby will also love to read, and I frankly don’t care whether he reads with his eyeballs or with his fingertips. Talking books ARE NOT an acceptable substitute for literacy.
Finding braille books or twin-vision books (books that are in both braille and print) is expensive and challenging–just try going to your local library to check one out. We currently receive books on loan from the Kenneth Jernigan Library in California; while this is great, we don’t get to pick out the books we read, and it takes a long while to both get books and return them. In short, while it’s an excellent program, it’s not the same as being able to go to your local library or bookstore and pick up something that seems interesting to read that day.
As I’ve noted in a previous post, I’m planning on making much of our home library into twin-vision books for Peanut. Since I’m already learning braille and am obviously a big proponent of literacy, when someone mentioned that I can volunteer as a transcriber, I was instantly hooked. In order to be a Literary Braille Transcriber, one needs to be certified by the Library of Congress. (This makes sense–you want to make sure that the books you’re reading are accurate copies, and you want to have some standard to be able to determine if your braillers know what they’re doing without having to test them all yourself.) This is where the National Federation of the Blind comes in with its Braille Certification Training Program. It takes at least a year to complete, often more, but at the end, you can be certified as a transcriber.
You don’t have to have any knowledge of braille to get started, and the program is free. Most materials are provided free of charge, although you will need your own brailling equipment and paper. You can find out more about this excellent program at http://www.nfb.org/nfb/Braille_Certification.asp. I am so excited to get started!