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The power of touch: 22nd annual Braille Games brings fun to Milwaukee Public Museum

May 16, 2024

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) –The 22nd annual Braille Games were held Thursday, May 16, at the Milwaukee Public Museum, providing an interactive way to learn and play, through the power of touch.

“All the activities the kids are doing have a braille component to them,” said Cheryl Orgas, executive director Audio and Braille Literacy Enhancement, or ABLE.

37 blind or low vision children from schools in southeastern Wisconsin gathered to practice braille in unique ways.

“The focus of today is the Wonders of Wisconsin, so for instance, one of the games is discovering the different shapes of leaves, but every leaf has a braille label on it,” Orgas explained.

It’s a collaboration between MPM, ABLE, Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library, and Vision Forward Association, as a way to emphasize braille’s importance in the blind community.

“Braille means a lot to me because it allows me to write, and read, and communicate just like a normal person would with print,” said 16-year-old Josiah Heesen.

He and his brother, Matthew, traveled from Janesville to participate and make new friends.

“I like being with fellow blind people who just are like me,” Matthew said.

Their mom, Laurie, said Braille Games has been a fulfilling experience for both boys.

“Here, you just know that it’s tailored for these guys, that everything’s going to be in braille, that we’re celebrating braille,” Heesen said.

The event has been held at the museum since 2016, with blind and low vision mentors hosting activities.

“Many times, museums are just look – don’t touch, but not the Milwaukee Public Museum,” Orgas said. “This museum has really embraced accessibility for blind children.”

It has become a special, decades-long tradition.

“A lot of kids should have the experience to go to something like this, because it’s really beneficial to meet people like you,” Josiah said.