Braille is Not a Language

In my previous post, I attached the article I wrote for The Toastmaster Magazine. It was printed pretty much the way I wrote it, with the exception of one glaring word, that I never would have written in this context. The article, as I wrote it started, “it’s 7:25 on a Monday night, and my Toastmasters meeting will be starting in five minutes. The voices of my fellow Toastmasters blend around me as I check the agenda, which I have entered in Braille in my note taker.” Note that I said “entered in braille.” What they substituted, without my permission was “translated into braille.” Braille is transcribed, not translated. You don’t need to translate English into braille. Braille is English, at least in the U.S. It is not a foreign language. It is a tactile way of writing. Think of it this way. If you write something in cursive, or script, it is not a different language from writing the same thing in print. So why do I make such a big deal of the use of one word? Saying that I translate things into braille infers that it is another language, thus propagating the notion that as a blind person, I speak another language. I am a foreigner. I used the word “enter” in my article, because I was using an electronic device. I could have said “typed.” The point is, I did not say “translated.” It did not even occur to me to use the word translated. That was the editor’s choice and evidence of ignorance about braille and probably about blind people too. I am offended by such ignorance. Words are important to me. They often carry more weight than actions. As a blind person who has spent most of her life trying to prove that she isn’t so different from anybody else, I am constantly reminded that I am. I try so hard to remind people that it’s okay to use words like “see” and “watch,” as in “Did you see the game last night?” and “I like to watch TV at the end of the day.” Blind people speak the same language that sighted people do. We don’t need a translator.

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One thought on “Braille is Not a Language

  1. So my burning question. . . did you contact the editor to have them print a correction in the next edition?

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