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And The Winners Are – 2017 Dickinson Memorial Literary Competition

The 2017 Dickinson Memorial Literary Competition saw a record number of entries and entrants in the Adult categories since Braille House has been hosting the event.  The standard was high and thanks and appreciation go to Heather Jacobs for judging the entries again this year (Heather is a writer who volunteers her time and skill).

And the winners are:

Short Stories

First place goes to Back Home Where You Belong by Helen Boardman.

Second place goes to Disaster to Destiny by Don Dias-Jayasinha.

Highly Commended in no particular order.

Belonging – Becky’s Journey by June Ashmore.

Belonging by Karen Passmore.

Poetry

First place goes to Incipient Separation by Rebecca Maxwell.

Second place goes to I Belong too!! By Dalmayne Thamm.

Third place goes to In The Beginning by Helen Boardman.

Highly Commended in no particular order.

A Little Nook in Nundah by Dalmayne Thamm.

I Long to Tell Him He Belongs by Helen Boardman.


Dickinson Memorial Literary Competition 2017

Entries are now open for the 2017 Dickinson Memorial Literary Competition.

Pen a short story or poem and be in the running to win cash prizes in this year’s competition.

The theme is “Belonging” and entries close 25 August 2017.2017 Dickinson Memorial Literary Competition

Queensland Braille Writing Association (Braille House) is proud to conduct the 2017 Dickinson Memorial Literary Competition which is open to participants who are legally blind and Australian residents.

There are categories for all ages and the Entry Guidelines and Entry Form can be found at the following links:

Dickinson Memorial Literary Comp 2017 Flyer and Guidelines

Dickinson Memorial Comp Entry Form 2017

We welcome participants in the Dickinson Memorial Literary Competition and wish you all good luck and a happy writing experience.

If you are interested in the history of the competition, click on this link: Dickinson Memorial Literary Competition History.


Anna and Jean

Nauruan Students at Braille HouseRecently, Braille House farewelled Anna and Jean after 3 months here to learn Braille.

Anna and Jean are Nauruan.

Anna, who is early 20s, is progressively loosing her sight.  Supported by the Brisbane Catholic Education Office and facilitated by the Department of Education, Nauru, in partnership with Braille House, Anna, along with her chaperone Jean travelled to Brisbane to learn Braille.  For any young person, travelling from home for 3 months is no small order.

Although very home sick by the end, Anna delightfully gained confidence and capability throughout her stay.  Anna successfully completed the Braille House “Grade 1” Course covering knowledge and use of:

  • Braille alphabet
  • common punctuation
  • simple numbers

Our course involved both reading and writing Braille and was presented on site, at Braille House, on a one-on-one basis. Anna was required to do a considerable amount of revision and practice between lessons, which she took on with passion.

Supporting Anna in her journey was Jean who successfully completed the Braille House “Braille for Print Users” Course which covers fully contracted Braille.

Jean was involved in discussions about:

  • the nature of touch reading
  • the teaching of touch reading
  • tactile sensitivity testing

In undertaking this course, Jean is now equipped to support Anna back at Nauru to continue to develop her Braille skills, including using contracted Braille.  Anna particularly wishes to continue to develop her Braille to enable her to read music

Technology will enable Braille House to continue to provide support to both Anna and Jean via Skype, email and telephone

It was a joy and a pleasure to have both Anna and Jean in the House these past 3 months.  Many new relationships have been developed and the experience will be treasured by all.  We wish Anna and Jean all the best for the future and thank the Department of Education, Nauru for their generosity and commitment to helping Anna.  Thanks also goes to the Brisbane Catholic Education Office for partnering with Braille House and the Department of Education, Nauru to tern this education opportunity into a reality

It is hoped that others will benefit from this opportunity in the future.

Like to know more about learning Braille or other things we do at Braille House, call us today on (07) 3848 5257.


How to Get the Braille House 6-Dot Pizza

Braille House is now into Pizzas. We have added to our suite of fundraising campaigns/initiatives engagement with Dominos,Braille House 6-Dot Pizza through its Pizza Mogul program.  Every Braille House 6-Dot Pizza sold will provide 75 cents to Braille House so we can continue and expand our vital services to empower people who are blind or have low vision.

The Braille House 6-Dot Pizza is a fun way to raise money.  Yes it is going to take quite a few pizza sales to reach our gaol of $10,000 by 30 June 2017, however, with the help of social media and technology, as well as the friends of Braille House, we are motivated to get there.

$10,000 will enable Braille House to purchase state of the art equipment to create contemporary materials to assist children and adults who are blind or have low vision to move around their community, secure employment and engage with their peers in every day activities.

The Braille House 6-Dot Pizza consist of yummy salami, olives, Italian sausage, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and onion dotted over a classic crust and pizza sauce.

So, how do you get your hands and taste buds on one of these delicious pizzas?

Go to Dominos Pizza On-line and click on the large red button “Order on Line” in the right hand corner of the page. Fill in the fields as requested and when you get to the page asking you to choose your pizza, scroll down the page to the Pizza Mogul pizzas and type in Braille House 6-Dot Pizza in the search field – this will take you to our pizza – choose it and buy as may as want to support Braille House.  It’s that easy.

You can also download the Dominos App and purchase through it.

Pizza Mogul is an initiative of Dominos.  It allows people and organisations to design/create their own pizza, promote it for people to buy and earn a slice of the profits.


Eyes to See

Braille Embossing MachinesAt a small meeting in the Telegraph Chambers in March 1897, a group of women formed the Queensland Braille Writing Association. Seven members, including Mrs Sharp, Head Teacher of the School for the Blind and Lady Lamington, wife of the then Queensland Governor, undertook the task of brailing twelve texts each. They began the work of building a library, as well as teaching people who were blind or had low vision and people with vision to read and write Braille.

On 22 March 1899, a free lending library consisting of 54 books was officially opened. The number of texts grew considerably over the years with some members of the Association brailing over 1000 volumes each, often by hand.

The Association provided much more than just books. Members like Madeline Bird personally convinced many employers to accept trainees who were blind and contributed to Dedication to the Blind, a radio program that aired for 25 years.

Following World War II, volunteer members tutored newly-blind ex-servicemen in braille, continued to transcribe university texts for students who were blind and produced a monthly braille magazine.

Even with the advent of assistive technologies, today the Queensland Braille Writing Association, or Braille House as it is more commonly known, still teaches braille and moon and creates Braille.

Our free lending library houses and provides a large selection of brailled books for borrowing including books for children and young adults. Braille House has continued to develop and circulate a quarterly magazine which also reaches some of our overseas clients.

Our transcribers and embossers continue to create brailled text books for students of all ages and exam papers. We also create braille for other clients for, for example, business cards and brochures, as well as labels to identify items around the workplace and the home.

People who are blind or have low vision, as well as print users, continue to be taught how to read and write braille by the Braille House tutors.

There are many ways for people to get involved with Braille House. If you would like to know more, visit our website at www.braillehouse.org.au follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/braillehouse or phone us on (07) 3848 5257.


Why Braille is Brilliant

Why Braille is Brilliant

Imagine taking your child to school and the teachers tell them they don’t need text books, paper or pencils.  All they need to do is listen to others – the teacher speaking to them and headphones so they can learn through audio programs from an electronic device.  Would you be OK with this?

We know learning to read and write has far reaching implications.  Through reading and writing we learn spelling, punctuation, grammar and most importantly, the ability to interpret information through our own “voice”.  Two people can read the same book or play or poem and take from it different messages, interpretations and feelings.  Without this personal interpretation and opinion we wouldn’t have book clubs, writers’ festivals and plays having very long runs or one night showings on Broadway.

Braille is brilliant because it empowers people who are blind or have low vision to be literate.  These tiny dots support them to live independently, attain their desired level of education, increase their chances for employment and enable them to interact with communities just like everyone else.  Even though text-to-speech technology is helpful for people who are blind or have low vision, Braille offers powerful benefits, including the ability to navigate public areas, ensure the taking of the right medication in the right dose and the ability to interact in the workplace independently (eg, through Braille labels to identify tea and coffee).

“How could I have known at the age of six that the braille I was learning as a student with low vision was going to be such a big part of my adult life?  All I knew was that I was learning to read and write not only print but braille” – Wendy Sara (Transcription Production Manager – previously Tutor and Proof Reader, Braille House).

In this fast paced world supported more and more by technology, it is critically important for people who are blind or have low vision to have equally accessible and affordable skills and technology for staying connected through text messaging and e-mail, social media, researching and downloading material for education and work and reading books.

There are many ways everyone can #GiveaDot and be involved in the continuous empowerment of people who are blind or have low vision to lead their desired lives.

Want to know more?  Visit Braille House online at www.braillehouse.org.au or call us now on 07 3848 5257.


Profiles of Champions

Volunteer at Braille HouseHow do you describe champions in our society?

  • By their academic achievements?
  • By the amount of money they have made?
  • By their ability to entertain others?

At Braille House we have two champions, Marion Wood and Shirley Sara, who were honored with life membership at the Queensland Braille Writing Association’s (QBWA) recent Annual General Meeting.

QBWA Council member Wendy Alexander described our champions perfectly in her following speech:

Good morning everyone.

Braille House has a certain camaraderie; a quietly appreciative way of acknowledging efforts, a please keep coming we enjoy your company, an awareness of “it’s good to provide for others” feel to it.

It’s because of the people who work in it!!

Incidentally, did you know that I get the best jobs at Braille House? Today is one of them.  Today I have been asked to let you in on the celebration of two of our great workers  …  to help us celebrate two life members.

How may of you know the author Beatrix Potter?

How many of you know her character Mrs Tiggy Winkle?

Mrs Tiggy Winkle goes about quietly helping everyone. She is always clean, kind, tidy and caring.  She does the laundry for her fellow woodland friends.  If there’s a problem she quietly fixes it.  She does not seek the limelight; she’s just pleased to do a good job.  She makes the world an easier place to function through her work.

Did you know we have our very own Mrs Tiggy Winkle? She quietly comes in, does her work, makes sure she has plenty of work to do at home, signs off and scuttles out the door.

Our Marion has brailled countless books, all at home, and when here, helped by her mate Margaret, organizes the distribution of brailled manuscripts to proof readers. She has provided many books, for all to read, as well as making sure they are good quality and worth reading.  A really valuable quiet worker for nearly 40 years.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Marion Wood.

When I talked to our Braille House folks about their idea of our second candidate, what I got in return was a serene, happy facial expression and comments about how she emanated friendship happiness, knowledge and degrees of positiveness. It seems she quietly went around topping up everyone’s tank of self esteem, confidence and skills.  I know she worked hard too. 

When the library administration combined, I got to hear how graciously she taught someone a new skill, how she included everyone as valuable, useful people and how she always was there working beside or with you – some lady huh?

What I had seen was that if there was work to be done she would be there, organizing books, helping others, chasing queries, helping in the kitchen. This good fairy is our little ray of sunshine, a beautiful positive person through thick and thin.

I am sure her daughter Wendy knows how much we have appreciated her efforts. I reckon Wendy rehearses her spiel about “How’s your Mum” on the way to Braille House everytime.  She’s always being asked.

Ladies and gentlemen I give you our very own good fairy, confidence giver, helper, worker and all round ray of sunshine – Shirley Sara.

Braille House can always benefit the assistance of volunteers. If you are inspired by Wendy’s speech and would like to consider volunteering at Braille House please contact us on 3848 5257.  We have many rolls available including administration, marketing and event/fundraising management.  If you can’t commit as a volunteer but would like to help out some other way, again, please contact us 3848 5257 as we have a number of ways people can get involved in assisting people with low or no vision – just like our Mrs Tiggy Winkle, Marion Wood and our Ray of Sunshine, Shirley Sara.

 

Braille House (Queensland Braille Writing Association) is a non-profit organization providing Braille and Moon tuition and reading materials to empower people who are blind or who have low vision to live with dignity and independence. Although located in Brisbane, South East Queensland, Braille House provides to people throughout Queensland and Australia wide.

Features of Braille House include:

  • Library: a free lending library of braille and moon books and braille magazines.
  • Transcribing: producing books and other resources in braille for children and adults, students of all ages, organisations and government departments.
  • Tutoring: tutoring of adults who wish to become touch readers of braille or moon script.

Find Braille House at 507 Ipswich Rd, Annerley QLD 4103 or online at http://braillehouse.org.au/ . Contact us on (07) 3848 5257.


QBWA 119th Annual Meeting

Dr Marjorie GreenQBWA 119th AGMQBWA 2016 AGMToday, 20 April 2016 Queensland Braille Writing Association (QBWA) held its 119th Annual General Meeting (AGM).  As usual the QBWA volunteers and staff presented a wonderful morning tea and overall AGM.  Chaired by Cr Nicole Johnston proceedings ran smoothly with required matters attended to and inspirational food for thought presented by our guest speaker Dr Marjorie Green.

Here is a snapshot of QBWA in 2015 presented by Ms Sue Wagner, Vice President QBWA.

The highlight of 2015 for QBWA must surely be the successful refurbishment of the libraries – Braille, Moon and Magazines. A huge task presented itself: that of rigorously assessing the collection and culling all the volumes that were damaged, poor quality due to age, or pre-Unified English Braille standard. While that work was being carried out by the Library and Tutoring Volunteers, the rooms in the undercroft were prepared, painted and provided with new flooring, lighting, air conditioning and a reconditioned set of compactus shelving.

The two teams that were librarians in separate libraries are now one cohesive team operating even more effectively for our readers. In 2015, 323 Braille library titles (2040 volumes) were sent out to readers throughout Australia and 92 new Braille titles (366 volumes) were added to the library collection.

The Book Panel met on three occasions in 2015 and welcomed Jenny Cossins from the Rural Libraries section of the State Library to meetings.

The essential structural maintenance work on the roof of Braille House was completed early in the year following the storm in November 2014 which damaged the roof and broke every window along the south side of the buildings. The repairs to the roof included insulation which has resulted in a much more comfortable environment inside the house. Refurbishment of other parts of the buildings is an ongoing process.

Braille House has continued to be host to the Australian Braille Authority’s Braille Club, held once each term for Braille reading students, and to the Tactual Mapping Committee which meets about six times each year.

Our annual Braille Literacy Challenge in September once again drew together enthusiastic students from Prep to Year 12 to challenge themselves in reading and writing Braille. This year the Veronica Maguire Award for Persistence became part of QBWA’s Challenge event. The winners of this award, together with the winners in the HMF Anderson Award for Braille Writing and the Jean Cowley Award for Braille Reading are featured on our new Challenge Honour Board.

Braille output has increased with more volunteers producing texts in MS Word for conversion into Duxbury for embossing, and enthusiasm for producing Braille on the Perkins machines continues undiminished among a select group of our transcribers.

Tutoring: Braille and Moon courses continue with students receiving local tuition where they can get to a QBWA tutorial and remotely for those further afield.

The Binding section has excelled this year expanding its repertoire into a range of tactual cards, at the same time finishing new books for the Braille House Libraries. The cull of the old library brought to light some classics that were in need of repair and this, too, has been included in the Binding Room’s busy schedule.

Linda Triasmono was a presence at Braille House over many years and in many different roles; her untimely death at Christmas took from her friends and family an indomitable force and a good friend, but her legacy lives on in our memories.

2016 will take us in new and exciting directions. The NDIS comes ever closer and we are learning how to migrate into the era of very fast communications taking our strong beliefs and practical strengths in tactual literacy with us.

Braille House (Queensland Braille Writing Association) is a non-profit organization providing Braille and Moon tuition and reading materials to empower people who are blind or who have low vision to live with dignity and independence. Although located in Brisbane, South East Queensland, Braille House provides to people throughout Queensland and Australia wide.

Features of Braille House include:

  • Library: a free lending library of braille and moon books and braille magazines.
  • Transcribing: producing books and other resources in braille for children and adults, students of all ages, organisations and government departments.
  • Tutoring: tutoring of adults who wish to become touch readers of braille or moon script.

Find Braille House at 507 Ipswich Rd, Annerley QLD 4103 or online at http://braillehouse.org.au/ .  Contact us on (07) 3848 5257.


A 13-Year-Old Blind Boy Made a Difference

Tactile Braille Features on Australian Bank NotesThe Australian Reserve Bank (RBA) will soon introduce “tactile” banknotes to assist visually impaired people identify the different denominations. And we can thank 13-year-old Connor McLeod, from New South Wales, for this change.

In May 2015, legally blind Connor lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission against the RBA’s current banknotes, arguing it discriminates against the 300,000 visually impaired people in Australia.

Although current currencies include features to help people with low vision, such as bright colours and different sizes, for Connor, a “call to action for change” came when he was left embarrassed at not being able to tell immediately how much money he received for Christmas.

The Human Rights Commission supported Connor’s complaint and a petition for the new banknotes was circulated, with 57,000 signatures received. This led to a meeting with the RBA in November 2015, where Connor lobbied the main decision makers for change.

Although many organizations and people had lobbied for years to have tactile features on banknotes, it is Connor’s intelligent, passionate and factual plea during his meeting with the RBA which resulted in the RBA’s announcement it will soon add a tactile feature to all bank notes.

In a statement, RBA Governor Glenn Stevens said the new tactile features of banknotes will help vision impaired people tell the difference between denominations of Australian bank notes, along with the bright colours, large and bold numbers and different sizes for bank notes.

Mr Stevens went on to say that the testing and trialling process for the next generation of banknotes is ongoing and designs have not yet been finalised, however, the new designs will be released in a timely way, so that the public can be confident they understand how to recognise and use the new banknotes. The first “New Generation Banknote”, to include tactile features, is the new $5 note which will be issued from 1 September 2016.

Sue Wagner President of Queensland Braille Writing Association said the association endorses the initiative taken up by the RBA and particularly the persistence of Connor in taking his issue to the Human Rights Commission and then to the RBA. Real tactile features on Australian Bank Notes will be another step in ensuring that people with vision impairment are not disadvantaged in day-to-day living.

“As an organisation whose mission is tactual literacy, we look forward to the testing of the new tactile bank notes and we are confident that some of our clients would be willing participants in the testing process” commented Mrs Wagner.

 

Braille House (Queensland Braille Writing Association) is a non-profit organization providing Braille and Moon tuition and reading materials to empower people who are blind or who have low vision to live with dignity and independence. Although located in Brisbane, South East Queensland, Braille House provides to people throughout Queensland and Australia wide.

Features of Braille House include:

  • Library: a free lending library of braille and moon books and braille magazines.
  • Transcribing: producing books and other resources in braille for children and adults, students of all ages, organisations and government departments.
  • Tutoring: tutoring of adults who wish to become touch readers of braille or moon script.

 

Find Braille House at 507 Ipswich Rd, Annerley QLD 4103 or online at http://braillehouse.org.au/ .  Contact us on (07) 3848 5257.


Now accepting entries in the 2016 Dickinson Memorial Literary Competition

Queensland Braille Writing Association (QBWA) is proud to conduct the Dickinson Memorial Literary Competition for another year in 2016.

The competition theme in 2016 is “The Road to Rio” with entries closing 26 August 2016.

Entry Guidelines and Entry Form can be found at the following links:

Dickinson Memorial Literary Comp Guidelines 2016

Dickinson Memorial Comp Entry Form 2016

We welcome participants in the Dickinson Memorial Literary Competition and wish you all good luck and a happy writing experience.

If you are interested in the history of the competition, click on this link – Dickinson Memorial Literary Competition History