Health For Life Day 2013

A few months ago i got a call from my old home economics teacher at Jordanstown. She wanted to know if i would take part in their anual “health for life” day wwhich is where there are different things that happen throughout the day. I said i would, but when she asked me if i would talk about braille as the kids were getting bored i wasn’t too sure. I love my braille, but i would be the first to admit that i don’t use it as often as i really should. Technology is there and it’s convinient, but i would still advocate braille. I had no idea how i would convince 10 and 11 year olds to use it though.

On Tuesday morning me and another friend from school headed down to jordanstown together. It was also a chance to look round the new school as well which i hadn’t seen since i was last at the old school. It was still being built at that stage.

When we first arrived, i couldn’t believe how quiet the little road you have to cross to get into the school was. There were little scooters and that whizzing around the playground. This was a lot different from what used to be there. The actual sschool felt more like a hospital than a school to be honest. I thought maybe it was like a college but that wouldn’t describe it either. The doors were power assisted, but i don’t think you were allowed to push the button if you could pull open the door which was a bit weird. The whole place was huge! Or it seemed that way. It was very open too. If i’m honest i think i prefered the old school layout. That could be just because i’ve grown up with it.

Anyway we were taken up to the staff room first, before heading off so that my friend could do his talk first. He talked to the partially sighted people. He chatted to them about being independent and what he did after school. One of the things he did was go to The Gambia. To be honest this was pointless an albeeno being sent there, but he went over to teach the kids some sports and that, and just to be a support to them. There was an organisation over there called Govi. He said that even though they didn’t have much, they were happy and sung songs and that every day. He said he gave a 4 year old some of his bottles of suncream. The child apparently thought this was the best thing because it meant he could go out into the sun and he wouldn’t have to worry about getting burnt. I myself found that really inspiring.

I then went to talk to some of the kids about braille. I didn’t know how i was going to do it at all. I just told them about Ushi and being more independent. I told them about how even if they didn’t use braille at all, if they knew the basics it would be such a help to them. I said they could read in the dark, they could write secret messages to each other, and the other kids wouldn’t know what they were saying. I also told them that i didn’t have a choice and had to learn braille until i was about 10 or 11 when then you learnt to touch type on a computer. I also explained that they could label their cds. I was met with “But we could use the pen friend” which is a pen where you put it on a label and record a message and it’ll play it back when you put the pen back down on it. I asked them what they would do if it ran out of batteries. They said buy more. Not quite the answer i was looking for.

One of the little girls said she liked touching people. She said she was touching a randomer in the supermarket and he yelled at her. I didn’t know how to word this, but if there is one thing i hate, it’s touchy feely blind people. Sometimes there is just no need and it can be very inappropriate. So i basically said that even though they liked human contact, you should only need to touch someone if you are taking their arm or that kind of thing. I said that sometimes it can be embarrassing both for the person and the person being touched. This wasn’t a feel your face kind mind you, but she still liked to touch people on the arm and it wasn’t just a simple oh i’m finding your elbow kind of a touch. This was a full on run my hands down your arm kind of a touch. So i said that people have always told me to keep my hands to myself.

I told them that their mums and that wouldn’t always be there and especially since they are getting to the age where they need to know how to care for themselves in every sense of the word.

I then finished up with letting them see Ushi. I made such an impression that i have been asked to come back in september again to help them all with their braille. I am looking forward to that but don’t know where to start.

I got a £10 amazon gift voucher and they got the kids to write me a message in braille which i was very pleased about :).

Even though my experiences weren’t the best there at times, i wasn’t going to tell them that. I wouldn’t have got the chance anyway.

After the talks the kids went out to help dig and plant some vegetables for the home economics teacher which is brilliant to have fresh vegetables and that.

I would like to thank jordanstown for having me and look forward to seeing the kids again.

Do you want to be kept up to date with the developments re United English Braille Code (UEB)?

I got sent this email yesterday. I have removed the names of the person it was from and was being sent to but thought i’d put it up here. I’ll give my comments in a minute but i’ll post the email first.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 10:33:15 -0000
Do you want to be kept up to date with the developments re United English Braille Code (UEB)?
Dear ***

This News item is being circulated for your information. If you are interested in being kept up to date, please reply to Alan Thorpe direct at:

At the end of last year, UKAAF (the UK Association for Accessible Formats) voted to adopt the Unified English Braille code (UEB) for the United Kingdom.
The changes are not dramatic and it is hoped that the new code will make braille easier to learn, easier to convert into print, and easier to share with
other English Speaking Countries amongst other things. If you would like to find out more about the adoption of UEB then please visit the Frequently Asked
Questions section on the UKAAF website:

If you would like to see the differences between the current braille code and UEB these are also on the UKAAF website:

Although UEB has been adopted in the UK, implementation is still some way off. UKAAF has identified 2012 as a planning year when organisations will be
looking at:
A) Updating teaching and reading materials
B) UEB translation packages
C) Updating coding books
D) Exams
E) Training for teachers
F) Method of implementation

Also high on the list of issues identified by the UKAAF braille teachers group was that of effective communication with Braille teachers during the process.
We would therefore like to invite teachers who want to be kept up to date on the developments relating to UEB implementation to reply to this email. Please
send us your name, email address and job role.

The UKAAF braille teachers group will be compiling an email list and will then provide periodic updates on progress. So if you are able to respond with
your place of work, its location such as county, job role , who you teach such as children/adults, how many learners and any other information you think
we would find useful please reply to Alan Thorpe at


From what i can understand,

Is so that each english speaking country has only one code to go by. This is to make it cheaper to reproduce or something.

It has caused alot of outcry and a couple of years ago there was a consultation released about it but they obviously ignored this. I think there is nothing wrong with the systim we use now and it has been this way for hundreds of years. Yes we don’t use things like capitals, but if you are in a class with sighted peers you are going to pick up on when to use a capital letter etc.

In fact when i was using my Livejournal blog, I thought it would put the capitals in for me and when i asked for it to be reviewed, i discovered there was no capitals at all and got a very rude response about not including capitals. Up until then i had no idea that my entries weren’t in capitals and went back and corrected each entry. I always make sure that all capitals are in the right place now.

A couple of weeks ago,
Radio 4’s Intouch program
Covered the topic. I think it should still be available
But you can only read the factsheet from that date.

I sent off this email to the person who will be compiling the list of people to send updates to, and although the orriginal email is for teachers, it’s not teachers who will be using the new systim if it changes.

Dear Alan

I received an email from someone yesterday regarding being kept up to date with the developments of Unified english braille. I know this is mainly for teachers but i am a braille user myself and think it would be extremely useful to have this information.

I am strongly against this new systim and hope it won’t be implimented.



I don’t even think there is a petition available for us to sign.

Do any of you feel the same way about braille? Maybe it’s just me but why change something basically to appeal more to the sighted? I have written before about how
I got told
That i was using the wrong sign for a decimal point back when i was doing my GCSES at school which it turned out i wasn’t entered for anyway. I also remember one day i read a square route sign wrong and was made to lay out what a braille sell looked like and the sighted transcriber was braught down too. Would you humiliate someone like that if they read a print letter wrong?

So as you can probably guess, i am not a fan of having things done for the sighted transcriber when it comes to braille.

I really hope this new system doesn’t come into effect and hopefully there is a petition or something braille users can sign if they disagree with the changes.

Anyway i’m off for now. I’ll let you know if i get any updates on the matter.

Annoying Maths Problem…

Hi. I am preparing to do my GCSE’S next year (i am in fifth year but our school takes 3 years to do them). Today i was doing Maths Today. It was a practice paper. There was a decimal point question. Here’s the problem…

Well when a decimal point is written it is written with a braille dot 2 representing the point. For example, if you were writing the number 4.99, you would write number sign 4, then dot 2, then 99. Well i was always told that that is only the way the people who write the text books write it. I was told to write it with braille dots 4 and 6 together. I have been doing this for years. Today, however, i am told that the way i should write a point is to write it with a braille dot 2. I don’t understand this, As that dot is a comma. Apparently, the way you write a point changes when you do GCSE’S. Nice to be told these things!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What do any of you use? Should i carry on writing the point the way i was shown? (i was shown by a blind maths teacher who has left). I think that as long as the answers are right, it shouldn’t matter what sign you use For a decimal point. should i not use the sign that i am used to? Please help me on this!!!!!