It is said that information is power, and for those of us who are blind and read braille, the impact of that statement can be huge. To wit:
About 30 years ago, the personal computer was making its way onto the stage as an empowerment tool for those of us who are blind. It had the potential to make us a lot more independent than we had been without them. With considerable foresight, NBP published A Beginner’s Guide to Personal Computers for the Blind in 1984. I read the book with great interest. I wanted one of these computers, and I wanted it yesterday. Only problem was, I didn’t have the money to buy one. At that time, PCs cost thousands of dollars, and a bad investment could mean that you’d be stuck with a very expensive paperweight, along with severe buyer’s remorse.
Enter my brother Stephen, the businessman of the family, who could look at things objectively and technically, and who would eventually help me buy my first computer. National Braille Press was featuring a demonstration of six personal computers and screen-reader software as part of its book launch. Prior to the “competition,” I read the book, explained everything to Stephen, and he agreed to fly up to Boston to attend the demo. The room was so packed with other blind observers, my brother and I barely found room to sit on a piano bench.
After the demo, we made our decision, and a few months later, I got my first computer: an IBM PC/XT with a then whopping 10mb drive. Since then, I’ve never looked back! I even used my computer to write a review for a follow-up book NBP published on computer peripherals. Since reading that first book, I’ve bought and used lots of computers, smartphones, and other devices. In fact, to this day, I use computers to make my living.
None of that would have happened if NBP had not been on the cutting edge of technology, providing us with TIMELY information that would and did, and still does, empower us. The knowledge gained from that first book enabled me to continue to be gainfully employed and to better adapt to a changing work environment. Long story short: Knowledge is power, and to that end, thanks, NBP!