Falling in Love with Braille

Cay HolbrookHello everyone! Happy New Year! I’m Cay Holbrook. I am thrilled to be connecting with you this month and hope that we can have some very interesting discussions and learn from each other.

First I will tell you a little bit about myself. When I was an undergraduate student at Florida State University, I happened to know a fellow student who was in the program to prepare teachers of students with visual impairments. I went over to his house one Sunday afternoon and he was completing his braille homework and I started looking at the Perkins braillerwriter and his textbook. It was love at first sight! I was so intrigued with those six dots and I spent hours pouring over Louis Braille’s ingenious code! In fact, my friend was very happy because he was able to go in the other room and watch a football game while I monopolized his braillewriter!

I became a teacher of students with visual impairments and worked directly with children (mostly elementary aged) in Florida, South Carolina and Georgia. Then, I realized that I had a passion for “spreading the word” to other people who were interested in teaching children with visual impairments and so, I went back to school and completed graduate work, eventually a Ph.D. Since that time, I have been preparing teachers in Baltimore, Maryland (at Johns Hopkins University), in Little Rock, Arkansas (at The University of Arkansas at Little Rock) and currently at The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, Canada!

Without question, I would say that my most powerful memories in my work have been my connections with children and their families. I am so grateful when parents invite me to join them in their journey and I appreciate how much I learn from these families. I have been fortunate to have had many opportunities to step far away from the “ivory tower” of university life as teachers, parents and student generously include me in their lives.

I’d love to hear your stories!

I am interested in everything concerning children and youth with visual impairments! How is that for an open door for discussion? But, I am most interested in the development of literacy skills. This includes the development of reading and writing in print, braille, a combination of print and braille and other methods of accessing information in our world! During the next few weeks we will mainly focus on literacy, but I am happy to address other topics as well.

Editor’s note: Dr. Holbrook is also the author and editor of many books and articles, which are available in the AFB bookstore.