Denton woman creates Braille jewelry to spur message, change

Denton woman creates Braille jewelry to spur message, change


A bracelet created by At First Sight Braille Jewelry's Leslie Ligon




Posted on January 21, 2011 at 10:32 AM

DENTON - If someone told you about a pocket in your community where only one in 10 adults knew how to read, it could seem hard to believe. But research shows most blind people are illiterate, never learning to read Braille and missing their chance to become independent.

Now one woman in Denton is out to change that -- with jewelry.

By design, Leslie Ligon's jewelry is more than something to wear; it's something to talk about.

"I think that every piece that gets worn raises more questions, elicits more curiosity," she said.

At the heart of At First Sight Braille Jewelry designs are tiles, each containing a letter written in Braille. On one level, a full alphabet bracelet can help anyone learn Braille relatively quickly.

"It really is my Braille cheat sheet," Ligon said.

But on a deeper level, Ligon's pieces are intended to start a conversation about a serious problem in the blindness community. As many as 90 percent can't read Braille, making them illiterate.

"It's just easier to sweep it under the rug and pretend it doesn't matter," Ligon said.

There are many reasons for the illiteracy, including neglect in schools, reliance on audio books and improved technology. The results are high rates of unemployment in the blind community and a lack of independence.
Those were all things Ligon did not want for her son Ethan, who was completely blind by the time he was two months old. He's now 13 and fully plugged into the world of Facebook and Google with his Braille laptop.

Ligon said being able to do those things could help her son find a job in the future.

Recently, after 10 years of work, Ligon's design ideas were honored in New York with a major award from the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt Museum of Design.

Back at home, Ligon sends out thank you notes in Braille with each piece.

"This thing has a mission," she said. "This is not just about jewelry."