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How Do We Read?

Transcript-How Do We Read
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How do we read? 📚 And what can braille tell us about how reading works in the brain? Writer Andrew Leland explains how braille was invented – and puzzles over his own braille reading mystery. Then, neuroscientist Simon Fischer-Baum reveals how braille could change everything we think we know about how we read. Put a bookmark in your novel and listen to our latest episode!

Learn more about Andrew and accessibility in our bonus interview extra on Patreon!

Episode art for "How Do We Read?" Pictured are a pair of hands using braille in a book. The braille spells out "braille."

NSF logo.

This episode is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number # 2148711 - Engaging Blind, Visually Impaired, and Sighted Students in STEM with Storytelling through Podcasts. Click here to learn more.



Photo of Andrew Leland sitting on a bench in a forest and holding a white cane.

Andrew Leland is a writer, audio producer, editor, and teacher. Andrew's first book, The Country of the Blind: A Memoir at the End of Sight, is about the world of blindness and Andrew's journey of finding a place in it. Here's a video where Andrew talks about blindness and writing his book:

Also, here's a great TED video from Andrew where he discusses the spectrum of blindness:


Photo of Simon Fischer-Baum.

Simon Fischer-Baum is an associate professor of psychology at Rice University. Simon researches written and spoken language processing, short-term memory, and cognitive neuropsychology.


We heard some super cool stuff about braille in the episode, but did you want to see it in action? Here's a video from the BBC about reading with braille:

Remember that the braille letter/writing system uses a lowercase "b," with the uppercase B referring to Louis Braille. A capital letter makes braille seem strange or different. It's not strange or different, just "an alternative to print," as Simon says.

Also, here's what the braille alphabet looks like. For more information on the braille alphabet, check out this article from the Perkins School For The Blind.

Chart of the braille alphabet.

Image by hannazasimova on Freepik

Finally, here's a quick demonstration of someone reading with braille. As Andrew said, it's like "lightning is striking across their fingers!"


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