Wednesday’s blind wisdoms – Sign up to our Youtube channel!

Oh, have you seen the clips of the braille biscuit monster on the braille biscuit show on Otago Access Radio?? 105.4 fm or on podcast at

It’s so so cute! Help us spread the braille biscuit word by sharing this post as well as going onto the Youtube channel and subscribing! That way, every week you’ll get to learn all about the braille alphabet, for the next 24 weeks – we’ve already done A and B – and we’re going right through to Z!

Listen to interviews with braille lovers or hear their stories, there’s quotations from Helen Keller, readings in braille along with music from blind musicians!

And if you want a poster for your workplace, school or organisation simply send me an email to julie with your postal address and I’ll send you one out!

We’ve already been picked up by another radio station – Plains FM in Christchurch which is super exciting! The braille biscuit monster is very pleased, he loves being the centre of attention! Unless he’s trying to pinch those braille biscuits of course, then he’s quite happy for you not to notice him!

Have fun checking this Youtube clip out from yesterday’s show and the braille biscuit letter b! That’s b for blind wisdom!

Bye bye!

The Braille Biscuit Show Logo pdf.pdf

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Wednesday’s blind wisdoms – The braille biscuit show!

Good morning blind wisdom seekers

And welcome to the braille biscuit show!

Yes, it went live yesterday and what fun it was. It’s my new multi-platform radio show on Otago Access Radio, 105.4 fm.

You can hear the show every Tuesday morning at 10 am

· 105.4 FM

· 1575 AM

· Streamed live at

· Download the podcast from the website

· Find podcasts of previous shows on that blind woman’s facebook page!

· The show is sponsored by the Blind Foundation and began on October 4, as part of Blind Week, 2016! so get ready to find out more about this magical code with interviews with braille lovers, music from blind musicians, readings in braille and quotations from Helen Keller sprinkled throughout the show!

Each week we end with the show’s Louis Braille Limerick!

There “was a French boy who ate snails,

Who poked his eye with a nail,

He went blind the next day,

So he started to play,

With some dots that he turned into braille!”

Viva Louis Braille!

Listen in and help us spread the word about this amazing literacy tool for the blind!

Poster_Braille Biscuit Show (1).pdf

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Wednesday’s blind wisdoms – 7 day reading aloud challenge!

This Blind Week I am responding to a 7 day challenge put out by the Blind Foundation in conjunction with an organised event where 7 blind people are challenging themselves over 700 km for 7 days!

However, I am doing a different kind of challenge. After becoming partially sighted at the age of 18, I have not been able to read aloud for over 30 years. Until now……

I learned braille as a 35 year adult but while I found writing braille relatively easy, reading it with my fingers was a whole different story.

I am collaborating with Dunedin Public Library all next week where I will be reading at least one children’s book a day for 7 days at all libraries around the region.

I’ve been practising my reading for 30 minutes every day for the past year to improve my reading speed. and Just for fun, we are going to make blanket huts and crawl into them and I’ll read the kids a story. Just like we used to do when we were little!

Here’s where you will find me in my pyjamas, reading aloud around Dunedin in Blind Week, 2 – 8 October!

Sunday 2 October at 11.30am: City Library, Storypit

Monday 3October at 3pm: Blueskin Bay Library

Tuesday 4 October at 11am: Mosgiel Library

Wednesday 5 October 3 pm – Pop up Braille blanket hut! Surprise!

Thursday 6October at 3.30pm: Port Chalmers Library

Friday 7October at 3pm: Waikouaiti Library

Saturday 8October at 2pm: City Library, Storypit

You can follow the Blind Foundation’s 7 day challenge on their site

Or they have their facebook page

Or follow it all on twitter

#lifewithoutlimits #lwol #acityofstories

If you want to contact Dunedin Public Library you can do so through

Kay Mercer
Events Coordinator, Dunedin Public Libraries
Direct Dial: 03 474 3419

Email: kay.mercer

Or me on julie!

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Wednesday’s blind wisdoms – I wonder where my husband is!

That’s what I thought the first Christmas we spent together in 2005! “Where’s Ron?” I asked myself. He kept disappearing. Putting it down to having ants in his pants, I carried on through the silly season and at last Christmas arrived!

“here’s your present” he said quietly as he handed me a flat square parcel. “I made it for you!”

“Oh that’s where you’ve been disappearing to then,” I exclaimed!

I opened the package, running my hand around what felt like a frame, and some bumps on it. Reading the bumps with my hands Ron added in some description, “It’s a braille art work that reads the word vision, in tactile print as well as braille.” He continued, “because even though you can’t see, I still think you have vision.”

I cried. Tears fell on the painting. In a quiet voice I replied, “I’ve only bought you something!”

Since then, Ron has only dabbled in braille art works until recently, when he decided to do some more. Ron Esplin now has an exhibition at the Rob Piggott Gallery at 8 Jetty Street called a Portrait of Dunedin. While most of the works are water colours of Dunedin scenes, there is a beautiful section containing braille art works, created by Ron himself.

The works are based on contracted and uncontracted braille, and Ron encourages you to come and touch them! Unlike most galleries where the printed sign reads “Please do not touch”, these ones you are allowed to feel!

The exhibition runs until next Tuesday, 13 September and the gallery hours are as follows:

Saturday 10 & Sunday 11 September, 10 am – 4 pm

Monday 12 & Tuesday 13 September, 12 noon – 2 pm!

8 Jetty Street is just below the big intersection of Princes, Manse, Stafford and Jetty Streets! (opposite the Chip monks car park) (that’s instructions for the blindies amongst us!)

Plus, there is an article in today’s Otago Daily Times on Page 5 entitled “Innovative braille art gift to wife”

Ron, thank you for being inspired by braille! You see beauty everywhere, including in blindness and braille, and for that I love you very much!


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Wednesday’s blind wisdoms – fearing the blind!

Good morning blind wisdom seekers.

Thank you for joining me for another glimpse into the world of the blind. In searching for inspiration for today’s entry I came across an article entitled Why we fear the blind written ByROSEMARY MAHONEY in which Rosemary explores her own emotions towards blindness as well as an experience that taught her much.

Here is that experience for you to read. I’ll join you back at the bottom of this excerpt.

A few years ago, I allowed myself to be blindfolded and led through the streets of Lhasa by two blind Tibetan teenage girls, students at Braille Without Borders. The girls had not grown up in the city, and yet they traversed it with ease, without stumbling or getting lost. They had a specific destination in mind, and each time they announced, "Now we turn left" or "Now we turn right," I was compelled to ask them how they knew this. Their answers startled me, chiefly because the clues they were following – the sound of many televisions in an electronics shop, the smell of leather in a shoe shop, the feel of cobblestones suddenly underfoot – though out in the open for anyone to perceive, were virtually hidden from me.

For the first time in my life, I realized how little notice I paid to sounds, to smells, indeed to the entire world that lay beyond my ability to see.

The French writer Jacques Lusseyran, who lost his sight at the age of 8, understood that those of us who have sight are, in some ways, deprived by it. "In return for all the benefits that sight brings we are forced to give up others whose existence we don’t even suspect."

Thanks for being so articulate about blindness Rosemary. As a blind woman I appreciate you sharing your insights as a sighted woman with the sighted world. Thank you also for understanding that the blind tap into a world that is very often unseen by the sighted.


You start noticing what you smell, hear, taste and touch!

“I may not see but I can smell

And taste And touch and listen

And when I do this every day

I find my optimism!”

That blind woman

Julie Woods!

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Wednesday’s blind wisdoms – Dear Spark!

Dear Spark

We moved house last December, and as a consequence, the free 018 directory assistance so kindly offered to me by your business on the grounds of being unable to read print was no longer available on my new land line. After making enquiries by phone informing me I would have to re-apply for the service, a print form was posted to me to be completed. Unfortunately I was unable to complete the form requesting exemption from paying for the service on the grounds I have a print disability, so asked my husband for help to complete this.

After we had done that, I ask my volunteer Margaret to drive me out to the Blind Foundation to have them verify my blindness as requested on the form. The staff at the Blind Foundation kindly obliged and also popped the letter in the post for me. Done!

After no further communication for a fortnight or so, I headed down to the Spark shop here in Dunedin as we had another issue regarding Call Minder. The wonderful assistant Jesse helped us with our Call Minder, and towards the end of the conversation I asked about the status of my free directory assistance.

“Can you tell me if they have received my form yet Jesse?”

“It doesn’t look like it Julie”

“OK, how will I know when they have received it Jesse?”

“They will send you a letter to inform you!”

Spark, can you please tell me which part of blind you don’t understand?

Thank you.

That blind woman

Julie Woods!

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Wednesday’s blind wisdoms – I want to read to my grandchildren!

I decided that since I couldn’t read books to my own children then I would make it my goal to be able to read to my future grandchildren. Although I didn’t go blind until my boys were three and one years old, I had partial sight that prevented me from reading aloud to them. When it did come time to go blind, there was so much to do to simply stay afloat, that reading was below cooking, cleaning and washing on the list of things to do!

It wasn’t until braille came into my life four years later in 2001 that reading books in the conventional way started to become possible again. But by this time I was a single blind parent and my boys were now 7 and 5. Too late for their mother’s slow reading fingers to read aloud to them, but none the less, I was gradually able to read again.

Years passed, I got work, I met Ron, the boys grew up, we travelled to Paris for Louis Braille’s 200th birthday, we began to travel even more, visiting the Seven Wonders of the World, eventually travelling to 50 countries by the time I was 50.


What did I still want to do?

I wanted to read aloud…….

If not to my own children, then to my own grandchildren and if not to them, to other grandchildren!

I didn’t have any grandchildren of my own yet but it was time to prepare.

Since the age of 18, when I became partially sighted, reading had been a struggle, Reading aloud an impossibility.

I knew from my training as a life coach, that my daily action must be aligned with my goals, no artist could create a painting without drawing a line a day, no author write a book without writing a page a day. Similarly no future blind Granny could read their grandchild a book without reading at least a page a day! So, starting last November, one page a day it was. I started with a promotional publication from the National Braille Press sent from America, page by page I read with my fingers. I started with just one page but as my confidence grew, so did the number of pages at one sitting. I moved onto bigger braille books but as my focus moved off the page and onto a whole book I lost focus. The braille books seemed overwhelming in contrast to the pamphlets I had been reading so I had an idea…..

I decided to stay focused on my goal of reading to my grandchildren and get some kids books to practise on. The Homai Library does a range of books in the Twin Vision series which are print children’s books with a braille overlay! I requested a few be sent to me for the Christmas period so on Sunday 27 December, when the house was finally quiet, I got stuck in to a book called “our Granny” by Margaret Wild! I read it word by word, from cover to cover, gliding my fingers over some words with ease, while stumbling over others. The best part was of course finishing it, although it could be said that the best part was that the title was something very close to my heart – the term Granny! That’s what the grand children call my Mum! “our Granny!”

I returned to the larger books again as I had read all my children’s titles, but again I lost focus with the bigger braille books.

Again I phoned the Homai Library the week before Easter to ask for some more children’s books. This time I asked about Hairy MacLary from Donaldson’s Dairy and other New Zealand favourites. I spoke with the librarian Katherine and explained my goal of reading to my future grandchildren. She said they had Hairy MacLary and would send it down plus any other Lynley Dodd titles they had.

This Easter, I went to go for my morning walk and as I opened the front door of our apartment building the courier arrived and said “Can you please place this inside?” “Who’s it for?” I enquired. “Julie” she replied. “Oh that’s me!” I squealed, handing me the bag to take. I instantly recognised it’s touch and knew what it was. My new braille books. I placed the bag inside the building and carried on with my morning walk. Upon my return, I picked the bag up from the foyer of our apartment building and came upstairs.

I joined Ron at the dining table, when he enquired “what’s that?” “Oh it’s my new braille books, I hope it’s Hairy MacLary” I smiled.

I pulled one of the books out and ran my fingers over the braille title. I couldn’t believe my fingers. “OMG” I cried out. “What’s the matter?” asked Ron.

“This book they sent me, it says Zachary quack!”

My elder son is called Zachary and his friends used to nick name him quack! Here I was, preparing myself to read to my future grandchildren and I’m sent a book with my son’s name in the title!

I think I might be on track!


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