On a Cuppa at the Mosens, does Braille still matter, and what is reading?

This week on A Cuppa at the Mosens, we go with a topic suggested by a listener. We’ve divided it into two key points. What is reading, and how relevant is Braille in 2017?

So first, what actually is reading. If a sighted person hears a book through a commercial service from Audible, usually they wouldn’t say they had read the book. They would draw a distinction and say that they had listened to the audiobook. Blind people don’t tend to make that distinction. But should they? If reading is the process of using your brain to decode words on a page, then when we listen to an audiobook, or even have our screen readers read it to us, are we not being read to, rather than reading it ourselves?

What does it mean to be literate? If a sighted person couldn’t read something for themselves and had to rely on people or devices to read it to them, most people would consider them illiterate. If we as blind people can’t decode words written on a page because we don’t know Braille, does that make us illiterate?

Is Braille the only true path to actual literacy that a blind person has? Certainly there are compelling statistics indicating that Braille literacy makes a massive difference to a blind person’s chance of getting a job. If you’re a Braille reader, how often do you use it, what do you use it for, and how would your life be different without it? If you were never taught Braille, do you feel you’ve suffered because of it?

Can a highly competent screen reader user proofread just as effectively with speech as a Braille reader can?

There’s so much to talk about, and as always, we welcome a diversity of perspectives and experiences.

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