Can An Old Dog Learn Braille?

A reader made a suggestion I could learn Braille. At first it sounded sort of fanciful. I am 63 years old and she wants this old dog to learn new tricks! I am sure it is REALLY hard. I am sure it will take me FOREVER.

Then I thought I should practice what I preach. Turn the mind and be willing. I could at least look into it….besides, it is good for a page and I am running out of ideas. Anyone else out there willing to share? I could use a little more, wonderful help like we got from Lara, Jennifer, Rick and Andrea.

VisionAware has a page on All About Braille. They tell us Louis Braille invented the system in France in the mid-1800s. Braille ‘cells’ are made up of two columns of three rows. Each letter and symbols is made up of a pattern of one or more dots.

The letter ‘s’ is dots in the second column-first row, 1-2 and 1-3. U is 1-1, 1-3 and 2-3. E is 1-1 and 2-1. There! I spelled my name!

I probably would want to learn alphabetic Braille first. That is letter by letter Braille. There is also a form called condensed Braille in which whole words are represented by one cell of dots.

Being part of the special education system, I know a little bit about sign language for the deaf. American Sign Language is not just standard English you ‘speak’ with your hands. It is its own language with its own rules and specialized characteristics. Condensed Braille reminded me of that. It is also just one of a number of systems, just like ASL.

Problems with learning Braille as an older adult include finger sensitivity. Some people are blind because of complications of diabetes. Diabetic nerve damage may interfere with learning Braille.

Right now, I really don’t see Braille as an option for me. Not totally because it would be difficult and time consuming to learn, although those are factors. The major reason is right now I have options that work for me just fine.

I have magnification through my CCTV, reader and iPad, as well as ZoomText on my work PC’s. My computers and my phone also have options that allow me to be read to. I don’t use those options simply because they are so dang irritating! However, if I get to the point I cannot navigate around my desktop or my phone, I may be happy to have them.   [You can review how Sue uses these by going to her pages A Day in the Life and A Day in the Life: Work Day.]

And speaking of being read to, don’t forget my KNFB Reader. Then there are BARD books and the newspapers on my phone.

If I want to write as opposed to read, I do have a few touch typing skills. Speech-to-text is also available to me. Of course, we all know some of the things that happen there.

For example: I tried to speech to text the text “we find our adventures where we can” and the message my friend got was “we find our dentures where we can.” Took a while for her to stop giggling.

OK. Gotta go. I have a staff party tonight and I still have no idea what I am going to wear. Could be worse. At least I don’t have to find my teeth!

Click here for an article on how Braille is useful on the job in case Sue changes her mind. ::smile::

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Please read the disclaimer.  I will also admit that I have not read every word of every reference.  I’m just trying to provide resources to help you do your own research in addition to what we have found. – Linda…

updated November 25th, 2017

Navigating: There are a lot of links here.  I’ve set up this page so that when you click on a link (words that are underlined & in blue or green), a NEW tab will open in your browser and this page STAYS WHERE IT IS.  When you are done with the new page you opened, just close it.  You do NOT need to use the back option.  If you click on a link and the new page replaces this one, I’VE MADE A MISTAKE so please let me know by sending me an email at  Let me know exactly which link or links do not open a new tab or window.

Errors: If you click on a link and you get a ‘page not found’ error, please let me know by sending me an email at  Let me know exactly which link or links do not open a new tab or window.

Additions: If you have a link you’d like to add, please email at

Topics-click below to move to a topic

Links We Like

  • Click here for a GREAT resource where you answer some simple questions and you get a customized guide based on your responses
  • Click here for a great glossary
  • Click here to take several quizzes to test your knowledge of the disease
  • Click here for Low Vision Resources: A List of Lists (such as 8 ways to slow AMD, 15 tips for family and friends, etc)
  • Videos
    • Click here for several videos
    • Click here for the UK Macular Society’s Say Hello to Mac
    • Click here for one that uses illustrations and animation (explains how wet AMD progresses and how the injections work)
  • Click here for a description of dry vs. wet AMD (we are not recommending any products in this article)
  • Click here for an article about depression after diagnosis
  • Click here for a very comprehensive page about wet AMD
  • Click here for a very comprehensive page about dry AMD
  • Click here for a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) that answers a long list of questions such as ‘will resting help my eyes?’, ‘Can I see for myself if my retina or macula shows any signs of damage before I have symptoms?’, ‘why don’t new eye glasses help?’, ‘what is meant by degeneration?’, ‘is a macular hole the same as macular degeneration’, ‘I have had dry MD for years. Does this mean I’m going to get wet MD too?’, ‘No one else in my family has MD. Why did I get it?’, ‘can drusen be treated?’, ‘I have changes on the Amsler Grid, does this mean I have MD’, ‘I have Wet MD but my Doctor says there is nothing he can do or no treatment available. Why is this?’
  • Click here for a short introduction to stems cells, what they are and how they can be used.
  • Click here for a summary of AMD research and developments in the past 12 months (posted June 2016)

See what vision is like at the various stages of AMD

Click here to find ways to see simulations of what vision loss due to AMD is like at various stages.


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Websites devoted to AMD

listed in no particular order

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Websites containing information about AMD

listed in no particular order

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Message Boards including ones from
By postal mail
  • Association for Macular Diseases
    210 E. 64th Street
    New York, NY 10021
    (212) 605-3719
    – Offers education and information on macular disease through seminars, newsletters, and a hotline. Offers counseling to patients and their families.
  • Macular Degeneration International
    is now a part of Foundation Fighting Blindness
    Toll Free Helpline 1-800-683-5555
    – Provides support for people affected by inherited macular degeneration including Stargardt’s disease.
Start Your Own
  • Vision Support Group-download video presentations  This group provides free information and support through presentations to groups of senior adults affected by macular degeneration and related retinal diseases.  You can join & get access to their materials so you can use them in your own group.
On the phone/telesupport

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Where to find services

  • In the US: click here to find a low vision center, retina specialist, state agency, ophthalmologist
  • In the UK: click here to support services (listed on the right side of the page) such as skills for seeing, counseling, access to treatment…and more
  • In the US: click here to search for a wide variety of services (more than the link above)
  • In Australia: click here to find an ophthalmologist and optometrist
  • Worldwide: click here for resources worldwide

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Books and reading materials

Specific Titles

Sources of Books

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Personal stories of living with AMD

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Online newsletters

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What is AMD?

Wet Form
Dry Form
How fast does AMD progress?
  • A good article about how difficult this is to answer
  • Great video that explains why early detection is important especially when detecting the change from dry AMD to wet

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What is Stargardt’s Disease?

Also called Stargardt’s Disease (SD) or Stargardt Macular Dystrophy (SMD) or Juvenile Macular Degeneration (JMD), it’s an inherited, juvenile macular degeneration. The progressive vision loss associated with Stargardt disease is caused by the death of photoreceptor cells in the central portion of the retina called the macula.

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The Science Stuff

Role of RPEs

Geographic Atrophy

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Charles Bonnet Syndrome/Visual hallucinations

Other problems with vision & AMD

  • problems with visual acuity, photostress, blindspots, color vision, sensitivity to light, depth perception
  • eye problems that have similar symptoms as AMD:

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Possible causes/contributing factors


  • Age is a large factor but can start earlier
  • Much less common are several hereditary forms of macular degeneration, which usually affect children or teenagers. Collectively, they are called Juvenile Macular Degeneration. They include Best’s Disease, Stargardt’s Disease, Sorsby’s Disease and some others.  See Stargard’s Disease section above.

Diet/nutrition (working on this section)

  • diet low in various nutrients & high in others have been linked to AMD.
  • See Nutrition and Vitamins/Supplements under Self-care/self-maintenance below.



  • AMD more common in women perhaps because women live longer than men

Uncontrolled high blood pressure

Uncontrolled high cholesterol



Blue Light

Eye Color

Aspirin & other medications

Other possible causes

  • Biological Process in Wet AMD – some evidence that the photoreceptors are starved by the lack of food (oxygen & nutrients in the blood) and the growth of blood vessels is to compensate for that.

Connection between AMD and Alzheimer’s Disease

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  • FDA approved options in the US, injections, implantable telescopes, laser treatment (also outside the US)
Injections for Wet AMD
Telescopic implants
Are there new treatments in the pipeline?
Vitamins (see Self Maintenance/Self Care section below)

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Research/Clinical trials


How can I become a part of a clinical trial?

  • A list of sources of information about clinical trials and how to find out for you to participate in.
  • You can search for clinical trials from the links above
  • There are registries where you sign up and enter information about the status of your eyes.  Researchers will use this information to find people that match their research and contact you.  Click here for more information about these registries in the US and elsewhere

Gene Therapy

Bionic Eye/Retinal Implants

  • What is a bionic eye?  It’s also called retinal implant or retinal prosthesis.   Implant is put in retina, camera worn by person sends image to implant which stimulates optic nerve
  • Click here for overview of retinal implants including videos of how it works & interviews with people who have them.
  • March 21, 2016 UK Bionic eye being tested
  • Here’s an article about one being developed at Carnegie Mellon institute in Pittsburgh, PA.

Nutritional Supplements

  • See Vitamins/Supplements section below.

Stem Cells

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Coping with low vision

Low Vision Aids

Wearable Technology

  • coming soon!

Suppliers of low vision aids

Financial Help




  • A website for the US where you enter your zip code and transportation options for your area will be shown.

Bioptic Driving


Checking vision

Amsler Grid

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Self maintenance/self care

Low vision rehabilitation





More to come, you can check out these posts now

Video: Overview of Assistive Technology for People with Low Vision

Highlight: How do I use Zoom for Apple products?

Highlight: What about Apple’s accessibility features?

News: Top 10 Low Vision Aids for AMD


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