SSE Braille Cards Project: Central San Jose, CA
A picture is worth a thousand words – a familiar proverb, but one that might not hold much meaning for those who are visually impaired. Often, they are overlooked in even the most basic rituals that so many take for granted. For example, receiving and sending greeting cards during holidays is a commonplace tradition - a simple pleasure that is, however, often denied to those who are visually impaired. A desire to change this was what inspired a young student of the Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) of the Sri Sathya Sai Baba Center of Central San Jose, CA, to explore making braille holiday cards.
So, how exactly does one go about making braille cards? The student’s first idea was resourceful, creative and simple – use a hot glue gun to deposit dots of glue on a paper to form the Braille words. When the glue dried, it would form raised dots that could then be deciphered by touch!
Next, the SSE student asked her teachers to help to identify organizations that would accept braille cards for the visually impaired. The SSE coordinator connected with the Vista Center in Palo Alto, CA, which has several programs that empower the visually impaired. When the Vista Center heard that the SSE students were planning to make some braille cards, they suggested the children use braille typewriters instead and gladly loaned out a couple to the children.
Getting access to the braille typewriters was one thing but no one knew how to read or type in Braille. Indeed, it meant learning a whole new language: type on a strange looking typewriter with only 6 keys, and use various combinations of these keys to make letters. But for twelve determined volunteers, this was not an obstacle. They took it on themselves to learn braille typing.
Within a few weeks, the volunteers were able to make 110 beautiful cards. The cards were placed in envelopes. Some other goodies were also added - a box of chocolates, a bag of chips and chewy bars. The whole ensemble was delivered to Vista center for distribution to the recipients. In addition, our volunteers also made regular greeting cards with motivational messages for adults who work with the visually impaired children.
One of the SSE student volunteers recounted, “Braille Cards was a very fun project. We had 2 braille typewriters and each volunteer would get a week to use the typewriter. We learned how to use it during a Zoom session. My favorite part was thinking up different inspiring messages we could type on the cards. I loved the entire process and felt immensely satisfied that I learned a new skill. “
Another SSE volunteer shared, “Initially when I signed up for Braille Cards, I had no idea how to connect so many dots to make a meaningful sentence in braille. I thought the project sounded interesting and it was my first time working with braille. I looked at many braille tutoring videos and after making my first card, I went ahead and made all 5 cards at once. In the end, it was a gratifying experience creating these cards knowing that I was cheering up someone when they received my cards!”
What started as a small desire and a small creative idea, from a young student desiring to do some good, quickly blossomed, with the grace of God, into a beautiful service project.