Wednesday 10 December – New adventures in Braille

We have a visitor in the house – Marty the backpacking Smart Brailler, who is on loan to us for a little while thanks to, who have teamed up with Perkins products and the RNIB to send this brilliant machine round the UK on tour

Lennie has made a start with braille in the past, mostly with Sharon (his specialist teacher) who works with him at nursery. Ed and I have both learned some of the braille alphabet, and Zoe enjoys writing “coded” braille messages for us to decipher. But we haven’t got very far with it really – we’re nowhere near ‘contracted braille’ which is what most documents and books are written in – so this is a good chance for us to start getting to grips with a whole new way of communicating.

We found the Smart Brailler slightly daunting when it first arrived, to be honest – it sat in the corner looking accusingly at us for a couple of days as we rushed about, barely managing to get children fed, presentable and where they needed to be each day. The run up to Christmas always feels frantic to me, and this week we’ve had a visit to Great Ormond Street to contend with as well – yesterday Lennie had his third operation to dilate his nostrils (after they were scarred over from proton therapy). We did at least manage to turn Marty on and work out how to enter Lennie as a ‘new user’ earlier in the week, so it now says ‘Hello Lennie’ when he turns it on, much to his delight. Lennie found all the different buttons within a minute – it’s brilliant watching how he uses his hands so quickly and proficiently now to work out the parameters of an object, and what it does.

Today, fuelled by the successful trip to GOSH, we rolled up our sleeves and worked out how to insert paper into Marty (remarkably easy, thanks to Perkins’ demonstration videos on Youtube), and both Lennie and Zoe enjoyed writing all of our names so that we can braille our Christmas cards. Well, Zoe wrote all of our names – Lennie wrote ‘L’ a few times, then pressed the space bar a lot, then pressed ‘Braille tracking on’ / ‘Braille tracking off’ repeatedly. He seems very taken with Marty – the fact that the brailler speaks back every letter and button he presses really helps, as he gets the feedback he needs to encourage him to carry on.

2014-12-10 18.37.05   2014-12-10 18.33.00

I also got a turn, eventually – I enjoyed making some labels for things around the house. Zoe insisted that we label the Christmas tree (although I’m not sure quite where we’re going to stick the label), and we’ve now got braille signs on the table, Lennie’s big boy chair and the ‘noisy toys’ box. We’re going to take Marty to nursery on Friday , so I expect more labels will start appearing there in the near future…


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