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Braille is often a language that most people do not think of, as it is a highly specific language that is only used by a small set of what is already a small subset of the population. Whereas 25% of the 2 million people with hearing impairment use sign language, only 10% of the 1.3 million people who are legally blind in the US are Braille readers. Of blind children, only 10% are learning the language. This is a huge crisis we are facing because it is becoming increasingly clear that we are not doing enough to help the blind community. According to the National Federation of the Blind, over 70% of blind adults are unemployed and as many as 50% of blind high school students drop out. Not to be funny, but we are turning a blind eye to the problem. Even finding Braille tutors near me can be virtually impossible thanks to the limited teaching options.
In 2003, there were just 6,700 full-time teachers of blind students, serving a population of 93,600 students. That amounts to 14 students per teacher, which might be okay if everyone was evenly distributed across the country and it worked out that way, but it is clearly not feasible. Per year, only 375 to 416 new teachers graduate from university programs. There is no national certification for teaching Braille, so what you get varies person to person. As text-to-speech gets better, the need for Braille has lessened, which has also contributed to more people moving away from it.
For Braille to remain as a language, people will need to continue to teach it and learn it. For those that find it inaccessible, our language tutors might be the right fit for you. We will do our best to find one of the 6,700 professionals that can sit down with you and keep the language alive.
Despite the increases in technology, 90% of teachers agree that technology is best used as a supplement to Braille, not as a replacement. Ill-informed sighted people, including myself, might have assumed that reading Braille is too slow, as it is harder to comprehend when you have to touch all of the dots. That is a fallacy, as studies have shown that Braille readers can exceed 200 words per minute, which is right around the same speed as any normal, adult reader. Look out for Braille tutoring near me, as you can be a part of the generation keeping it alive.
Braille is not just something you use to read books, but also something you can use to interact with objects in life. If you use a computer, you might use a touch indicator in your life every day. If you are at a physical keyboard right now, take a look down at the f and j keys. If you learned to type, you might have learned asdf and jkl;, which are the ideal resting keys for your fingers. Many type in the style that suits them best, but some who had to learn to type as a skill still use the little nubs on f and j as a home base for your fingers, so they can type without looking down. Instead of hunting and pecking, you can type naturally with the help of some simple Braille-like indicators.
Some sighted people learn Braille because it makes life easier. You can turn TV remotes, appliances, labels, ATMs, and more into no-look experiences when you add Braille to the mix.
You might realize why it is hard to find private Braille tutors from the number of full-time Braille teachers that exist on the planet. Where there are 3.6 million teachers in the US and a fraction of them that are tutors, it is very hard to find the fraction of the 6,700 teachers that can teach Braille. That, however, is our problem. Not yours. We will go out and build relationships with as many educators as we can, so all you have to do is focus on learning. Chances are if you are looking to learn Braille, you already face enough problems in your life. The last thing you need is one more thing that keeps you from getting the help that you need. If those numbers on high school dropouts are to be believed, we need to do anything and everything that we can to reach students. That is an untenable rate of dropouts, which we have full power to control. The first step is finding enough people capable of helping.
We obviously look for someone that teaches Braille, but, moreover, we look for professionals that are good at working with students. It is not any different than they teach Braille than if they taught biochemistry. We want you to love your private Braille tutoring. With your educator, you are going to get someone patient and practiced, who can pass along the necessary, but endangered language. You might be working on one of the least popular tutoring subjects, but that is not going to affect quality. In this case, you are guaranteed a strong baseline of competence, as we only hire tutors who are fully qualified to help. We are not just trying to pad our numbers. Our tutors will only pad our reviews, as their help consistently leaves satisfied students.
In addition to the simple language skills, Braille is also unique in the number of products that complement it. They often cost exorbitant amounts, but products like the Focus 40 Braille Display or BrailleNote Touch tablet make Braille more accessible. Using those products can require some expertise, so tutors that have used them before are very attractive to us. We want to be able to meet any needs as they arise, so we are always looking to build on our already great roster.
Every October is Braille Awareness Month, so that is a good reminder for Braille readers to think about giving back to the blind community by becoming a tutor. You can make a real difference by paying it forward.
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