Friday, 1 April 2011

Simplified Braille, Forgetting Something You Know, and Knowing Something You Don't.

I was going to talk to you on today's post about how I regularly talk to myself. In fact, I might still do - but first I want to raise a question that I've only just thought of.

The system of Braille is well known as the way blind people or partially sighted people "read" signs, books, etc.It is basically a number of raised bumps which the visually affected person runs their fingers over to feel what word or letter the bumps relate to.
But.....is there a simplified version of Braille for visually impaired (not affected - that was totally the wrong word) people with learning difficulties to use? Now, I'm wading out beyond my intellectual depth here and my armbands of reference are steadily deflating - so I cannot any guarantee any accuracy of what I am about to write.
I would have assumed that a person with a learning difficulty is often compared intellectually to a child or young person (unless of course they are a child or young person already). As we know, children start learning basic words, usually words with only a few letters (no more than six on average?) like Cat, Ball, House etc. So would it follow that there would be a simplified version of Braille with only basic words? For example, whereas a visually impaired person might read the Braille for "Sash Window", would a visually impaired person with a learning difficulty only have to read "Window"? I don't mean to patronise anyone - I genuinely don't know.

I also don't know if Braille is just a set group of bumps for each letter of the alphabet e.g. the word "Basket" would have bumps for "B", "A", "S", "K", "E", "T", or if there are specific groups of bumps for specific words. I assume the latter to be correct, otherwise wouldn't a book translated into Braille be much larger than a book containing the printed word? If I was right first time, surely you'd be able to spot a blind person in the library a mile off because he or she would be surrounded by huge books?

This whole question about Braille just popped into my head as I was thinking about how to start this blog. That''s what my brain is like, regularly asking bizarre questions that have no relevance to anything else.

Talking about the brain , don't you hate it when your brain won't let you recall a piece of information that you know. Usually it's a person's name, or a place. For example, you are talking to someone at work about the film "Shutter Island", which Stars Leonardo DiCaprio. But for some reason, you just can't remember Leonardo DiCaprio's name. And you know what it's like when you can't remember an actors name; you start reeling off the other movies they have been in, whilst shutting your eyes tight and rubbing your temples with the index and second fingers of each hand (because  we all know that rubbing your temples and closing your eyes tightly makes you remember stuff). And all the time, your brain is whispering to you "Oh, you know who it is alright - but I'm not going to let you remember until much later on".
And it gets worse when the person you are talking to tries to help. They start rubbing their temples and shutting their eyes, and then they always come out with the classic "ooh, I can see their face!" - at which point I want to yell "well ask them what their bloody name is then!!". If that doesn't work, the next trick is to try and think of what letter of the alphabet the persons name starts with. But you always start thinking of the least possible letter it could be. "Does his name start with an "X"? or a "Q"?".
Eventually, you give up - at least publicly. You go back to work muttering to yourself, still trying to remember. But gradually you stop trying to remember and get back on with your daily routine. And then, many hours later just as you are drifting off to sleep, or getting romantic with your partner, your brain says "you will remember it.........NOW" which is why in the middle of the making love to your wife or girlfriend or boyfriend, you suddenly shout out Leonardo DiCaprio's name

 It's as if you've got Movie Star Tourettes.

Of course the other end of the spectrum is when you think you know something, but you actually don't. This usually happens when you are watching a quiz show, like "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?". The question comes up:
'In Metres, How Deep is a Fathom?" A) 12 Metres B) 30 Metres C) 6 Metres D) 100 Metres'
How many of us have, without hesitation, shouted at the telly "It's A, definitely A.
At this point, your brain puts down the newspaper it was reading, and looking down it's nose at you says "what are you doing, you silly little person?". To which you reply, "it's alright, I know this one, I've got it".
"if you say so" replies your brain, returning to it's reading. The quiz master drags out the suspense, while you shout at the telly that the answer is A, and although you can't say how you know, you just know.
Inevitably the answer is revealed. In this case, it's actually C) 6 Metres. But the genuine surprise you feel when you hear the answer is palpable. "I could have sworn it was 12 Metres, honest"
This is when from behind it's newspaper, your brain simply sighs and says "imbecile".

Or that is what I think happens, anyway.

Finally, talking to myself. I do it. Lots. Everyday. At work, at home, in the car. It helps.

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