Talking Vision preview: Reading with no lights on, the benefits of knowing braille

07 January 2022

Being handed a 5-page braille book at the age of four was all the introduction Tess Herbert needed to immerse herself in reading.

“It was the first braille book I ever read and it was simply entitled Where’s Tessa? and I thought, wow, I’m in a book, I’m a celebrity,” Tess told Talking Vision host Sam Colley.

Reading braille books and writing in braille was all Tess knew for her first few years, as computers and touch-typing didn’t come into her life until 10 years old.

“The biggest benefit of braille is you didn’t need lighting to read,” she said.

But of course, like anything, there were a few challenges.

“You couldn’t walk into a library and grab any book you wanted, these books had to be specially brailled, and it could be quite a long wait,” she said.

For instance, a children’s classic, like Harry Potter would take a good year or two to be released in braille (in about 12 volumes).

But it provided quite a different experience.

Photo: Tess Herbert live on air at Vision Australia radio studios.

“I didn’t know how the words and names like McGonagall and Dumbledore were spelt until I got to see them in braille,” Tess said.

Celebrating World Braille Day on January 4, Tess says braille has changed her life, and she still uses it daily.

“If I have to give a presentation, I type it up and I read it out in braille, because otherwise I would have to spend a lot of time memorising it,” she said.

Listen to the full interview in the player below:

Read more about Tess and her experience with braille in her own words