Braille Sense and Tactile Tools
By Maribel Steel – Dialogue in the Dark Tour Guide
Technology today plays a vital role in opening doors to work and leisure activities for anyone seeking to reach professional and personal goals. Dialogue in the Dark tour guides feel the same.
“I always say to people I meet, that I am very lucky to live in today’s time with technology as it makes accessing the world around me so much easier.” Cassie is currently studying at Monash University and completing her Business Degree in Marketing and Management.
Here are some tactile tools some of the other tour guides use on a daily basis to stay in touch with the world around them too.
Tour Guide, Kate, uses a device called “Braillle Sense”. When Kate is not running a tour, you will find her in the staff room tapping away on this handy device which is a Braille input and output device designed for people who can read and type in Braille.
“At work, for instance, I use it for keeping notes on scheduals and staff rosters.” Said Kate. “I can actually use the Braille Sense for making appointments, for browsing the web, reading books and typing emails, just to mention a few of its features. I also like to take it with me as it is a very portable device that weighs less than a kilo.”
In short, the device is designed to access information using a Braille keyboard with refreshable Braille cells (letters) that keep a person who is blind well connected to the internet. Other features include: an address book, a book reader, a dictionary and an in-built GPS in Google maps.
“I like to get my hands on modern technology and play with it,” said Kate, “and experiment with new assistive tech.”
Being Strategic with Tactile Markers
From work to home, Tour Guide Francois knows how to be strategic when it comes to using Braille as a tactile tool in a different way. He makes his own Braille labels with a Braille machine to mark specific items in his kitchen.
“I have had to be come very inventive,” said Francois, “so I use laminated plastic with words marked in Braille because they are durable, especially for freezer goods. I make one label for “beef” or another for “chicken” and reuse the labels year round as they never perish.”
Another way Francois stays well organised in his kitchen with tactile markers: “I use tactile dots on strategic places like on the oven to set the right temperature to get a perfect roast every time!”
Francois…what time is dinner at your place?
Who is Your Pen Friend?
Tour Guide Jenny likes to use a tactile tool called Pen Friend. This handy portable device uses a person’s voice to record and create specific labels that can be secured to ANY item…anywhere!
“I use my voice activated labeller on the small stickers on objects such as my make-up as it helps me to distinguish different shades of eye shadow, say like pink and blue.
In other areas of Jenny’s home she uses her Pen Friend recorded stickers on spice jars in the kitchen and foods in the freezer. “I mostly use the stickers to tell me what the item is in the freezer and the use by date so in that way,I feel more independent in my home.”
Not only are the Pen Friend stickers re-usable, they also can help to identify digital buttons on a washing machine, dishwasher, oven and microwave. Perhaps having a Pen Friend is one solution to keeping an eye on the TV remote if it happens to disappear from view in your home too!
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Maribel Steel is a tour guide with Dialogue in the Dark, Melbourne. She is a freelance writer, speaker and positive vision educator. Maribel is legally blind with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) and is a peer advisor for VisionAware (American Foundation for the Blind).