Hey everyone! I’m so excited to introduce to you Emily from Emily Reads Everything. Last week I had Marissa from Marissa Nicole Reads who talked about the book to movie adaptations that she would like to star in. You can check out her post here.
Let's begin with the introductions, please introduce yourself to us:
My name is Emily and I blog at www.emilyreadseverything.com. I’m a Teacher of Blind Students from Texas. When I’m not teaching, reading or blogging, I’m helping husband make braille accessibility kits for popular board games. We have a small business called 64 oz. Games (www.64ouncegames.com). If I can do one thing with my blog, I want to highlight authors and books that you might not have noticed otherwise. In my dreams, I might introduce you to your next favorite book.
What made you decide to start blogging?
I was lucky enough to attend the Texas Library Association conference in April of this year. I had been toying with the idea of starting a book blog for a long time and while I was there a friend and a librarian who I really respect asked me if I had ever thought about starting one. When I heard someone else voice the same thoughts I was having was the turning point. I started my blog the next week when I got home.
Do you have a favorite blogging experience?
I’m a very new blogger, so I haven’t had many blogging experiences. I can say that right now, participating in the Summer Blogger Promo Tour has been my favorite. I’ve met so many great bloggers who I’ve become friends with. It’s been a fantastic experience.
Has a book ever changed your life?
I think the act of reading itself has shaped my life. I’ve always been a reader and I wouldn’t be the same person if reading wasn’t such a large part of my life. 8 years ago, in 2007, I started keeping track of the number of books I read every year. That was definitely a turning point because suddenly I had records of what books I read and how many. I love being able to look back at what I’ve read and use that to help make decisions of what I’m reading in the future.
What is one thing about yourself that people don't know?
That I’m incredibly shy. As a teacher and as a member of professional organizations I do a lot of public speaking. I’ve spoken to large groups of people many times. I’m also very outspoken and forthright. However, I’m much more comfortable in small groups with one or two close friends. You won’t be able to get to know me at a big party because I will leave at the earliest opportunity.
I know that you and your husband own www.64ouncegames.com. Can you tell us a little bit more about it?
My husband, Richard, loves board games. He has been designing and making his own games for as long as I’ve known him. He has a few games out with publishers and last year he was considering self-publishing a board game using kickstarter. When that was an option, we figured it should also be accessible to our blind friends, because we have a lot of friends who have never been able to play any of the 100s of games we own.
When we started looking for options to braille the cards and board in his prospective board game we quickly realized that nothing existed. There was no company that would emboss custom braille cards, let alone work with a game designer to make the entire game braille. So that became a driving force in what we wanted to do. We wanted to make games more accessible.
Richard still designs his own games but we ran a successful kickstarter last April and founded 64 oz. Games, were we make braille accessibility kits for board games. We make kits for games that you might know, like Apples to Apples and Cards against Humanity and games you might not know, like Pandemic or Seven Wonders. It’s all done out of our house, after work, in our spare time.
What made you decide to start teaching braille?
My best friend is blind. I met her in 8th grade. She actually taught me braille back then so we could use it to write secret messages and notes back and forth to each other in class. This was before cell phones, so note writing was a big deal. Then when I was in college, I was majoring in Elementary Education and I got cancer and I had to drop out of school for treatment. My same friend encouraged me to work at a camp for blind children called Camp Tuhsmeheta the summer I completed treatment and it was there that I realized that I wanted to teach braille for a living. Teaching braille is just like teaching reading. However, there is a huge lack of braille education in schools today. If anything, teaching braille is more important. Without braille, blind students are left illiterate.
Is learning and teaching braille difficult?
Do you think that it was hard to learn to read when you were in kindergarten? Do you even remember it? Braille is not different at all from print. It’s not a different language, it’s just a code or a different writing form. It isn’t hard to learn or use. Especially if you are learning and using it consistently, just like when a sighted person reads a book
How has your experience teaching braille changed you?
I am one of the few people in this world who gets paid for doing a job that they love. Teaching braille is my passion and I know that I’m blessed that I get paid to do it. It’s changed me because I do feel very lucky to be able to go to work every day and do something that I love.
Do you have a favorite book with a character that is visually impaired?
It’s hard to find a book that handles visually impaired characters with grace, sensitivity and high expectations. One of my favorites is a children’s picture book called Keep Your Ear on the Ball. In it, Davy is blind and his classmates get very annoyed with him because when offered help he says, “Thanks but no thanks.” It conveys the fact that blind people are independent and don’t necessarily want all the help that you may want to offer.
Thank you so much for having me today and asking such great questions! It was really a pleasure to answer them.