How Braille Played a Role in My Summer Internship

“There is a wonder in reading Braille that the sighted will never know: to touch words and have them touch you back.”–Jim Fiebig

Learning to read and write braille are essential skills for any visually impaired person to learn and braille remains an important skill which I use on a daily basis. Throughout grade school, and now in college, I use braille every day to read, write and communicate quickly and efficiently. It was no different when I began my summer internship in Boston.

Marisa Parker with colleagues

Ann Murphy, Marisa Parker, and Stephanie Fleming at O’Neill & Associates

For the past few months, I have worked as a public relations intern at O’Neill and Associates (O&A). O&A is a Boston-based public affairs consulting firm that I became familiar with while volunteering as a National Braille Press spokesperson on numerous occasions. Writing  press releases, compiling lists of media contacts and taking notes on client meetings and conference calls are all part of my duties as an O&A intern.

My refreshable braille device, which I use to take notes in meetings or on client calls, functions like a laptop for me. I use the computer to write press releases and compose media lists. My refreshable braille display and the text-to-speech screen reading computer software, JAWS, are indispensable tools for me to successfully complete my intern responsibilities.

I not only use braille at my internship, but also as a college student. At school, I am learning to play the flute and am teaching myself the braille music code so I can learn pieces quickly and capably. I use braille to read books and edit papers as well.

I am very fortunate that from an early age my family and teachers encouraged me to read and write braille. If a person is literate more opportunities are open to them. For this reason, it is important for visually impaired people to have the opportunity to learn braille. Organizations such as National Braille Press make this idea a reality by publishing accessible braille materials for the blindness community. Every day, I realize more and more that braille has become an integral part of my life which I do not take for granted and could not live without

Apple Keeps Us Moving Forward

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. You would cry, too.

After spending a year plus editing Larry Lewis’s book iOS Success: Making the iPad Accessible,multi color apple store it had a pregnant shelf life of exactly nine months. That’s because Apple pushed out a new baby shortly thereafter. And did I mention NBP edited, transcribed, proofed, pressed, and designed Larry’s book in seven different formats?

And now it’s happening again. After spending ten months with the remarkable Janet Ingber on her new book, Learn to Use the Mac with VoiceOver: A Step-by-Step Guide for Blind Users, an email arrived in my inbox: Will Janet be updating her Mac book this fall when Yosemite is released?

I didn’t reply. Instead, I went out and bought myself an oversized, anti-viral, ultra soft, aloe-soaked box of Kleenex and had myself a cry party. And then… sniff…

I got a tweet from that rascal Jonathan Mosen that he was already working on version 8 of his book, iOS 7 Without the Eye, which we transcribed last year. I stopped mid-sniffle and dashed off an email: Johnny, same deal as last time? You bet, came the reply. And then the incomparable Anna Dresner phoned: Will we want her to update Getting Started with the iPhone? Yes, please.

Not a word of complaint from Larry or Janet or Jonathan or Anna.apple new products Our indomitable authors (and consumers) are already moving on. It’s the way things are. Our authors, who are also consumers, have been “in the game” since 1984, when NBP published “A Beginner’s Guide to Personal Computers for the Blind and Visually Impaired.” I haven’t calculated how many technology books have shipped out since then, but I do know we’ve sold 11,844 iOS books alone.

James Baldwin said, “People can cry much easier than they can change.” It appears some do; others move on.