Learn Braille before going blind

Utah State University’s Assistive Technology program director Sachin Pavithran will be spending one week each month in Washington, D.C. now that he has been appointed to President Barack Obama’s U.S. Access Board.

Although he is totally blind, Pavithran will also continue to work on his PhD and serve on important committees, such as the National Federation of the Blind, and also lead the local chapter.

He came to USU to study at the age of 17 after his mother read his textbooks to him for several years. On KVNU’s Crosstalk show Friday, he said the best way to cope with blindness is to learn Braille.

“Unfortunately, there’s not as (much) importance put into it unless you are totally blind, which is not the right approach,” Pavithran said. “If someone is losing eyesight, or will be losing eyesight, they need to have the introduction to Braille and have a strong emphasis in it right from the start and not wait until they’ve gone completely blind.”

Pavithran says he has read Braille for almost eight years and reads at the rate of 70 to 80 words a minute. He says those who learn Braille early-on can read up to 300 or 400 words a minute.

He was born in India and grew up in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.

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