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  #1  
Old 05-16-2006, 06:08 AM
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How do blind people find braille?

At Starbucks the other day, I noticed that the restroom signs had braille (or what looked like braille) under the man/woman graphics. At other locations, I've seen braille-looking dot patterns on various signs, some at arm height and some not.

My question is: How are blind people supposed to find these tiny patches of braille?

Take Starbucks, for example. I can't imagine anyone walking around with their arms outstretched the whole time feeling for braille... they'd eventually end up groping someone or breaking one of the display ornaments/cups, no?

Or, more generally, how do blind people know where signs are in the first place before they can touch them and feel the braille? The signs I'm talking about are just ordinary plastic signs that do not emit any apparent sound or odor, so I don't think you'd be able to navigate to them using the other senses.

So how's it done?
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  #2  
Old 05-16-2006, 06:14 AM
friedo friedo is online now
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Well, they're not going to look for Braille in mid-air. Blind people know where the walls are either by feeling with a cane or getting an indication from their dog. If they need to start feeling for a sign, they're usually always roughly eye-level. But I have a feeling that a lot of Braille signs are just there to satisfy ADA requirements rather than for practical purposes. Like on drive-through ATMs.
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Old 05-16-2006, 06:30 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Not all blind people are totally blind. Many people with either canes or dogs do retain some vision. That residual vision plus past experience with architecture and buildings frequently allows them to make educated guesses as to where braille is likely to be.

Also, as most blind folks aren't deaf and can speak, another mechanism is to ask people who can see to get them oriented in the general direction of their goal.
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Old 05-16-2006, 10:53 AM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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Some of those Braille signs are really at crazy heights, though. I saw hotel room numbers once that had to be at least six feet up. It seemed kind of actively insulting.
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Old 05-16-2006, 12:27 PM
Lightray Lightray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by friedo
... Like on drive-through ATMs.
I used to work for a not-for-profit that employeed blind people in manufacturing and service jobs. One of my coworkers was an engineer who had no sight whatsoever.

He mentioned using an ATM one day, so I asked him about it -- I couldn't understand how the braille buttons helped, when all the information was on the (non-braille) screen, and the only audio cues were all the same *beep* sounds.

He said he had someone show him the first time, and then just remembered the sequence of buttons to push, and hoped he got what he wanted. But often had problems when they upgraded ATMs, or used different models at different locations, or similar bank hijinks.

He also mentioned that, thanks to the indistinguishable US bill denominations, he usually had to ask someone else what bill he had. Some ATMs dispense only $20s, others give mixes of $10s and $20s.

Incidentally, he didn't even know we had braille on the signs for the restrooms and such at our workplace. As he commented, "So what if I get into the wrong bathroom? It's not like I'm going to see anything..."
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Old 05-16-2006, 01:53 PM
FilmGeek FilmGeek is offline
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My bank's ATMs have little headphone jacks you can plug into for audio confirmation of your choices on screen. Pretty neato.
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  #7  
Old 05-16-2006, 07:17 PM
RCGDC RCGDC is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick
Not all blind people are totally blind. Many people with either canes or dogs do retain some vision.
I volunteered to work with some blind people and that was one thing that surprised me. Virtually none of them were totally blind to the point where it would be where you closed your eyes.

They told me that they couldn't see much but they were able to make out, as they called it dark and no so dark objects. So if someone said "The bathrooms behind you," they could turn around see a wall and the door would appear as a slighty less dark object, they would know from experience to head for.

Yes and they told me, I was really young when I volunteered, that they could tell when I was shining the flashlight at them.....LOL..

I was a bad teenager. But they were nice and I learned a lot. Like a lot of times their dogs can be ruined if people pet them.
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Old 05-16-2006, 07:43 PM
lissener lissener is offline
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The ATM machines have Braille on them because blind people take taxis and get rides. ATMs do not require the user to be behind the steering wheel.
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  #9  
Old 05-16-2006, 08:21 PM
eleanorigby eleanorigby is offline
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How does a blind passenger use a drive thru ATM?

Lean over the driver? Get out of the car?


I like the blind guy's comment about the bathrooms, heh.
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  #10  
Old 05-16-2006, 08:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RCGDC
Like a lot of times their dogs can be ruined if people pet them.
What does THAT mean?
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  #11  
Old 05-16-2006, 10:12 PM
friedo friedo is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eleanorigby
How does a blind passenger use a drive thru ATM?

Lean over the driver? Get out of the car?
They could do it from the back seat.
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  #12  
Old 05-16-2006, 10:27 PM
Driver8 Driver8 is online now
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Slightly, but not completely, related:

What is up with the braille on some touch (heat?) sensitive buttons in elevators? I'm talking about the sort of buttons where you do not have to push at all, just touching will activate the button. I have seen the braille on the actual button, not to the side! I have visions of a blind person selecting all the floors while searching for the right one.
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  #13  
Old 05-16-2006, 10:48 PM
KarlGauss KarlGauss is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reply
What does THAT mean?
If a guide dog is distracted, it can't do what it's supposed to do.

If it is repeatedly patted, it will begin to seek out pats and not have as its primary goal the guiding of its master.

Or something like that.
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  #14  
Old 05-16-2006, 11:11 PM
cerberus cerberus is offline
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I suspect that there is some sort of Blind Person/Visually Imparied Training Rituals involved, either as part of rehabilitation or as part of the normal education of a blind or visually impaired student.
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  #15  
Old 05-16-2006, 11:16 PM
Lightray Lightray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KarlGauss
If a guide dog is distracted, it can't do what it's supposed to do.

If it is repeatedly patted, it will begin to seek out pats and not have as its primary goal the guiding of its master.

Or something like that.
Yeah, that's one problem. Another of my former cow-orkers had a guide dog, Winston, who used to roam out of his office in search of attention.

You would think, in a company dedicated to working with blind people, the cow-orkers would know better. But, no. He'd be whistling for Winston -- and the dog would be on the other side of the building, getting pets from the secretaries.

Mind you, this wasn't the greatest guide dog to begin with: he was perpetually leading his owner into walls. You could track the guy's progress to the bathroom by the thumps down the corridor.

Which is why my ATM-using friend said he only used a cane.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick
Also, as most blind folks aren't deaf and can speak, another mechanism is to ask people who can see to get them oriented in the general direction of their goal.
There's actually quite a few people with Usher's syndrome in Seattle, that I used to deal with through the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind. They're deaf, and go progressively blind through macular degeneration. They basically get around in the same way, though -- they just have to plan ahead. Either to have someone who knows tactile sign language, or carrying pre-written notes, or something similar.

Several of them put on a training course for us that was very helpful in thinking about work accomodation for the deaf-blind. You really start thinking about workplace safety when you're trying to operate a drill-press -- wearing welding goggles and hearing protection.
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