In the blog below, read how one massage therapist and instructor helped Kristen Steele, a blind massage therapist, continue her education.
Steele is fluent in Braille and used it throughout her studies at the Midwest School of Massage in Omaha, where her average was a 4.0.
Steele is now suing the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) for refusing to allow her to take the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx), in Braille. The stance they have chosen to take would see to go against Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which calls for examinations to be given in the manner that best allows those with disabilities to take the examination. (See https://nfb.org/national-federation-blind-assists-blind-woman-litigation-against-massage-and-body-work-licensing)
We wish you luck Kristen, and hope that justice prevails on your side. Your dedication to the art of massage is an inspiring story for all of us. Here’s a video of Kristen using braille to read from one of the author Mary Kathleen Rose, LMT’s books:
“When Kristen Steele signed up for a continuing education workshop in Comfort Touch with me, she wanted to be able to read the handouts and textbook just like everyone else. But she had a problem. Now 20 years old, she has been blind since birth. None of the printed material I had was available for her to read in Braille.
Having begun to read Braille when she was three years old, Kristen is fluent in reading and writing, and used this system throughout her education, including post-secondary college courses. She graduated from the Midwest School of Massage in Omaha, Nebraska, in 2016. Braille is a system of writing or printing, devised by L. Braille for use by the blind, in which combinations of tangible dots or points are used to represent letters and characters that are read by touch.
After she contacted me, via email and phone, I was able to adapt the handouts I used into a plain text format. This allows her to read them, via an electro-mechanical Braille reader, a device with a refreshable display of round-tipped pins raised through holes in a flat surface.”