All Praise to the Humble Slate and Stylus!

Almost a year ago, when we started developing Valleys WordWorks, my husband and I decided we would promote Braille transcription as one of our specialities. Braille is an extremely under-valued reading medium but the only one which is entirely effective in allowing unfiltered access to information to non-print-reading blind people. Thirty years ago when computer technology came to the fore, WEstern nations by and large dived into it with complete abandon. Technology was to liberate heretofore Braille-bound readers from the shackles of such an outmoded, bulky and pedestrian form of reading and writing. Perkins Braillers became objects of patient tolerance, a stand-by until electronic Braillers, lighter, and more portable, took their place; and as for the slate and stylus, much maligned among school children forced to learn Braille “BACKWARDS”? … well, gone! A thing of the past! Good riddance!
However, yours truly has always owned a secret stash of slates and indeed, I keep adding to it, covertly, clandestinely, cryptically. You can’t take a stylus on a plane after all, can you? It might prove a weapon of mass destruction. And nothing made a better duelling arm when I was a young and foolish schoolgirl. Hence the rather misshapen character of my favourite forty-cell slate! Our friends miriam and Bob in Toronto, www.visionaidscanada.com sell an amazing variety of slates and styli, so drop by and see them at Eglinton and Southerland!
In any case, the humble slate and stylus forms a valuable asset in the daily tick-tick-tick of Valleys WordWorks.
  • It labels file folders, (upside-down and on the back), so I can identify them quickly in their file cabinet;
  • It labels post which the Top-Braille has identified, (yes, the Top-Braille makes an appearance¬†whenever possible)
  • And it continues to take notes when a Braille Note Apex is not close to hand.
  • It identifies business cards;
  • It jots a reminder on a Braille leaflet we distribute at a conference;
  • It sometimes proves an excellent signature guide;
  • It transcribes Japanese Braille.
  • It carefully etches a personal message on one of our lovely greeting cards, a freebie at shows;
  • It labels Welsh flash cards for my evening classes so both my students and I know what they say;
  • It Brailles compliment slips when we send Brailed items to blind and vision-impaired customers.
All praise to the lowly metal or plastic “pencil and paper for the blind person!” No technology has yet come close to matching its versatility or universality! Whether you’re writing Russian, Welsh, French, Japanese or, as I recall, Elvish, it is by far the most efficient device ever invented!