WBU-AP(Senior group) Excellent Work
“TOUCHING THE POINTS OF HOPE”
Indonesia Atung Yuniarto(36/female)
As the sun came out shining, I woke up from my dream and I felt fearful in facing the future. I was restless and full of anxiety while I slept. I guess this must be a common occurrence for all those who lose their sight. Indeed, I had been blinded by an accident which taught me important lessons that ultimately helped me to realise my dreams.
After completing my tertiary education with a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics and Physics, I underwent an eye surgery with the hope of recovering my fast deteriorating vision. Unfortunately, the results of the surgery turned out to be negative and my life was changed for ever. I had become almost totally blind.
I could not read as I used to and the only thing I could see was the dim light. I could still write but I could not read my handwriting any more. In order to pass the time and to get up-to-date information, I would listen to the radio, use the mobile phone, or even "watch" television. In spite of all these facilities, nonetheless, I never lost my desire to read and write. Every day the feeling grew stronger and stronger.
At last I got information from the relatives of an old class-mate regarding a teacher from a special school for the blind. They took me to see him and he told me that the blind could read and write by touching some tactile dots and letters. He showed me how the six dots could be combined to represent letters, numbers, and other Braille symbols. He said that it was known as the Braille system and that it had been invented by a blind Frenchman called Louis Braille.
He said that I could be a teacher even though I was blind. He told me that some of the blind had already succeeded in becoming teachers and lecturers. He suggested that I should learn and master Braille because it was the basic tool for the blind to acquire reading and writing skills. Just by using the sense of touch, ideas would pour out through Braille. I would be able to gain access to knowledge and information.
Thus, I started learning Braille for a period of three months. At first I found it very difficult to use my sense of touch. However, I was determined and my teacher patiently taught me. Eventually, I found that I could read and write Braille. From then on, the way I read and write had changed for ever.
Now I would be able to realise the dream I had cherished while in junior high school. I would be able to become a teacher of Mathematics and Physics and doomsday had been avoided. Deep in my mind, however, I was wondering how so many special symbols could be written out in Braille.
One day, the ophthalmologist who had been examining my eyes every week, recommended that I should visit a special school for the blind to find out whether they had a vacancy for a teaching post. He said that many blind persons had become teachers in that school. This information made me really happy and gave me the strength to continue reaching out to fulfill my goals.
I found out that the school had no need of a teacher for the moment. Nevertheless, the Management Board of the school kindly agreed to accept me as a temporary teacher. My main task, however, was to help the school in the production of Braille books. This gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about the symbols in Braille.
Thus, I was placed in a room on the second floor of the school building. There I joined five other employees of the school, four of whom were blind like myself. I observed that they were persistently typing out Braille on sheets of Manila paper with the help of a Braille typewriter - each employee had their own typewriter. I was amazed to hear them brailling so quickly.
This was, in fact, the Braille Room and many kinds of textbooks were being produced and duplicated for distribution. Mathematics and Physics textbooks were also being published here. I discovered many more Braille symbols being used for Mathematics and Physics. It was fantastic - the combination of the six Braille dots in different ways could answer all the problems concerning symbols in the exact sciences, especially Mathematics and Physics! With Braille, it is possible for a blind person to pursue Science.
Six months passed by very quickly. Working at the school truly opened up my mind. I was able to interact with all the blind people there, including the teachers, lecturers, employees and students. I learned how to teach Braille to the blind at the school. I was very happy to observe that in addition to textbooks, all kinds of magazines and other books were also made available to the blind students.
Finally, the big day came. As I was typing out a Mathematics exercise with my Braille typewriter, a member from the Management Board of the institute came to see me. He handed me a letter which told me that I was already capable of using Braille symbols for Mathematics and Physics. In view of my good performance, the Board had decided to accept me as a teacher in the school.
Suddenly, all the people in the room cheered and congratulated me. I could not calm my tumultuous emotions. Tears of joy rolled down my cheeks as it dawned upon me that my dream had indeed come true.
I owe an eternal debt to Louis Braille for having bequeathed to me and other blind persons the system of Braille dots that has brought us enlightening hope and progress. With Braille we are able to bring about improvements to our lives and we can cope with all the challenges because it has enabled us to gain access to knowledge and information.
Louis Braille has made it possible for all the blind in this world to have an education and thereby gain their dignity in life.