hand on braille text

World Braille Day: A Celebration of My Grandmother’s Cookies

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I know everyone thinks their grandmother made the best cookies they’ve ever had.  But everyone else is, sadly, wrong.  Because there is no doubt in my mind that, in fact, it was my grandmother who truly made the best cookies ever. Sugar cookies and molasses cookies in particular. All forms of baking really – pecan tassies, apple pie, Texas sheet cake. But in particular, the cookies.  

Why am I writing to tell the world that I’ve solved the “who makes the best cookies dilemma?”  Because on World Braille Day I wanted to remember her in particular – and bring attention to the importance of Braille. Why? Because my grandmother, in addition to making the best cookies in the world, was also blind. And Braille saved her.  

I cannot imagine what she must have experienced when, at about age 60, she woke up one day and said that she was seeing double. And within a few years, she was completely blind. In fact, as an elementary school child, I vividly remember being at her house the night when she said to my grandfather that she no longer was seeing even faint images. After seeing the world in all of its color and vividness for more than 60 years, she had become completely blind. 

According to the United Nations website, “World Braille Day, celebrated since 2019, is observed to raise awareness of the importance of Braille as a means of communication in the full realization of the human rights for blind and partially sighted people.”  

Staying Connected

For my grandmother – Braille undoubtedly kept her connected to the world around her that she could no longer see. It allowed her to keep reading, and it allowed her to keep cooking which she loved to do.  We would make Braille labels to identify the sugar, the flour, the different items in the kitchen – and she, all from memory, would bake her amazing cookies for her grandkids. It is true what they say happens when you lose one of your senses – the other senses tend to become sharper. Mimi (what I called her) could smell when the cookies were done. She could feel when the dough was right. She could just sense the happiness around her when the cookies came out.  

My grandmother died when I was 16, but to this day when I am in an elevator and the Braille buttons are there or when I see a Braille translation at a restaurant, I am thankful that Braille was developed and continues to help visually impaired people participate more fully in the world around them. And, in particular, I am thankful that Braille allowed my grandmother to keep making the best cookies the world has ever seen.

Resources for Further Information

  • Writing “peace” … in Braille “Writing Peace” is a manual that invites young audiences to become aware of the interdependence of cultures through familiarization with contemporary writing systems, their history, and their mutual borrowings. It provides a concrete introduction to many writing systems, including Braille.
  • Blindness and low vision information from the American Foundation for the Blind
  • Braille for kids and teachers from the National Braille Press (you can download the Braille alphabet card from this site)