Technology Day in Birmingham

Braillist Paul Sullivan attended an introduction to assistive technology in Birmingham, UK with fellow Braillists Stephanie Seargent and Dave Williams. They were also joined by Braillist and Braille technology developer Ed Rogers of Bristol Braille Technology. Here is Paul’s report on the day:

On Tuesday 28th February Ed Rogers and I travelled to Birmingham City University, where we rendezvoused with Stephanie Sergeant. We were there to take part in a Technology Day for the final year FdSc Rehabilitation Studies (Visual Impairment) students. Later we were joined by Dave Williams who stood in for Ed who had to return to Bristol in the afternoon. The event organiser, Kirsty Jackson, made us very welcome and kept us supplied with tea and coffee throughout the day.

A number of other organisations had been invited to participate, including Orcam, Ultra Cane, Synaptic, GiveVision, Sight and Sound and Optelec. We were based in three rooms which the students circulated round. Ed and Dave demonstrated the Canute MK10, while I showed the students a range of older Braille equipment, including a Braille slate and a Stainsby. Steph demonstrated a Braille Sense U2 mini, a Victor Reader Stream, and an iPhone. All bits of kit not on display by the other exhibitors. Dave and I also demonstrated our different electronic Braille displays, which the students seemed to find very interesting. Their assignment was to learn more about the technology on display, and find out the advantages and disadvantages of each device.

During the day we had in-depth, one-to-one conversations about Braille and Braille technology with around fifteen students. They all knew Braille and were really enthusiastic about its potential for enhancing the lives of visually impaired people. Having got your comments on the value of Braille via the forum, I was able to give the students specific examples of just how important it is for our independence, education, employment and social opportunities.

Stephanie took the student’s contact details and we will be writing to them individually to thank them for their interest. Some of them are already members of the Braillists and we will be inviting the others to join our community.

Prior to attending Paul had asked the Braillists’ forum for input on what Braille meant to them and insights into learning Braille, etc so they could pass on more views to the students. This inspired a lot of amazing and compassionate feedback – you can read all the responses on the forum thread here.