All Praise to the Humble Slate and Stylus!

Reflections on technology that stands the test of time

Thirty years ago when computer technology came to the fore, the thinking was that it would liberate the heretofore braille-bound reader from the shackles of outmoded, bulky, and pedestrian forms of reading and writing—especially that lowly-of-low slate and stylus. What? Learn to write braille BACKWARDS?

Well, I’m as computer-literate as the next person, but I still keep my secret stash of slates. Indeed, I keep adding to it, covertly, clandestinely, cryptically. As a co-owner of Tactile Vision Graphics, my slate and stylus remains an essential business tool. It’s no lower than a pen and paper, which I notice people still carry around, and for the same purposes:

  • It identifies business cards;
  • Labels file folders;
  • Jots down phone numbers and addresses on the run;
  • Makes an excellent signature guide;
  • Brailles Welsh flash cards for my evening classes;
  • Takes notes when the Braille Note Apex isn’t handy;
  • Marks a conference leaflet for future reference;
  • Sends braille notes to vision-impaired customers.

So, I say, All praise to the lowly metal or plastic pencil and paper for the blind! No technology has yet come close to matching its versatility or universality—and it never requires beta-testers or a software update!

Rebecca Blaevoet and her husband, Emmanuel, co-own
Tactile Vision Graphics in Ontario, Canada.

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