4th June 1998In article <1643@warwick> maukh@opal.UUCP (Sunstorm the Intestinal) writes:
In article <1653@warwick> nht@warwick.UUCP (Neville Huw Vomit) writes: I was wondering... there must be some people out there who can sight-read Braille.
As a passing thought, I really do feel that all those braille smell-readers out there just aren't getting the attention that they deserve. Finely honed olfactory reading of braille text is something that the general public is all too unaware of, and a worldwide education program is necessary if we're to rectify the situation. I think I better stop here as this really isn't the right newsgroup to be putting forward the case for education in smell-reading braille (and other texts).
I myself recently had an accident resulting in my own blindness, and have had to learn to read braille as the only way to continue my course at University. However, shortly after that, I was involved in another accident that caused all my fingers to drop off, the net result of which is that I found myself also unable to read Braille by the usual tactile method. However, being one who rises to challenges set before me, I set to with a will, learning to read by Braille using only my sense of smell.
Well, guys, I have to tell you it's not easy, but I have persevered, and I was soon able to read braille at about the rate of 3 words a minute, and with fairly good accuracy. Sadly, however, my triumph was short-lived, as soon after I had gained this ability, and was beginning to get back on top of my course-work, I suffered a terrible accident in which my nose was damaged beyond all repair. (The exact details of this accident are available by email for those of you who wish to know)
However, nothing daunted, I set myself the task of teaching my guide-dog to read braille. Obviously, since dogs walk on all fours, the palms of their paws are too calloused to allow them to read by the usual method, so from the beginning, Old "Dinsdale" had to read by sense of smell. However, the task of training him proved easier than I had anticipated, due to his extremely keen nasal perception, and it wasn't long before, with Dinsdale's aid, I was able to resume my studies.
However, I would not wish my readers to think that all this was easy for me -- by this stage, with continued interruptions in my work, I was well behind with the assessed parts of my course, and I was finding it difficult to make even the extended deadlines, when -- horror of horrors, by an incredible coincidence, poor old Dinsdale suffered exactly the same accident as I myself had recently been the victim of! The result of this was that he also lost the ability to read braille, and my ability to do the research necessary in my course was severely restricted by the fact that I was unable to do any form of reading at all.
Sadly, my course tutors began at this stage to take an unsympathetic attitude to my problems, with exchanges like the following becoming common:
Tutor: "Your assessment is over three weeks late, Taylor! Why?"
Me: "My dog's got no nose."
Tutor: "This is no time for jokes!"
Me: "No, seriously, he used to read braille with it ..."
It was, of course, more or less at this stage in the conversation that the unsympathetic attitude began to become apparent. It is a sad fact that Britain's reputation as a major seat of higher education may be in grave peril unless more time is taken in teacher-training to alert tutors to the special problems of blind people with no fingers or noses whose guide-dogs have suffered similar nasal catastrophies.
So, that is my position. I am currently trying desperately to keep up with the ever-growing pile of work using a new method of reading developed by myself, in which I taste the braille dots, using a special strawberry-soda flavoured ink, but it is frankly an uphill battle, and since I was told three days ago, that I am suffering from cancer of the tongue, and will have to have it removed before the end of March, I am becoming resigned to the fact that I am unlikely to gain a good mark in my finals.
I am, incidentally typing this with my toes, another trick which I have had to teach myself, the major difficulty being that of having to stop every now and then to lick the screen, in order to check that what I have typed is correct.