WBU-NAC region(Junior Group) Excellent Work
“Two Leaps Forward: Braille and Audio”
U.S.A. Madeline Rose Link(12/Female)

Braille In The Life of a Sixth-Grader
I'm Maddie Link, and I'm a sixth grade student who uses Braille and audio devices for my academics, my pleasure, and my social life. In fourth grade, I incorporated the use of a BrailleNote into my everyday life at school. I found that through the use of this technology in the classroom, my classmates have formed a greater interest in the ways people with a visual impairment learn and participate in class activities. With my BrailleNote, I have discovered my love for writing, something I'd always had, but had not been fully able to express with print or the Perkins Brailler. I am even using my Braille technology to compose a short chapter book.
My Dad lives in Washington D.C. This means that I have the opportunity to spend a good deal of time in some of the nation's best museums. I am interested in science and art, and thanks to Braille signage in the museums, I am independent. My parents do not have to read every sign to me. This is helpful when inconsiderate people tell us to be quiet. I was even able to read some of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's speeches at his memorial in Washington. My parents were unable to read those speeches due to the absence of print on the signs.
I attended Catholic school, and my religion is a big part of my life. I am using my skills at Braille reading to both read and sing on the altar. Braille allows me to both read and sing the responsorial psalms while leading the congregation. My classmates are fascinated when they see me go up to the altar with what appears to be just a normal blank piece of paper.
Although Braille helps me in many ways, there are a few problems with reading with your fingers. The books printed in braille are very bulky. It's a pain to bring them to all my classes. This is where audio devices come in very helpful in my life as a student.
Hearing What's Important In 21st Century Convo
I enjoy reading fact and fiction alike. However, reading print makes my eyes very tired very fast, I can't enjoy the story or article I'm trying to read. Braille books are bulky, so I don't like carrying them around just for pleasure reading. This makes me turn to audio devices to satisfy my appetite for knowledge and entertainment. I have listened to so many books that I've lost track of the number. When I listen to audio books on my CD player, or on my new Victor Reader Stream, I feel closer to the characters because I can use my imagination. When reading print or Braille, I have to focus more on actually reading, and there is very little room then, for my own imaginings about the characters' problems and the idea of the text. Documentaries are more interesting to me than most movies for many reasons. One of those reasons is that I do not have to ask my classmates about every little detail in the movie because most documentaries have audio commentary. Also, I don't have to bug my parents when we go to see a movie. Fortunately, my interests lie more with scientific facts than with the fantastic characters of most children's movies today.
I am a natural musician. I have played the harp for two and a half years, and have grown up playing piano and have musical parents. I have also performed before many types of audiences including the Beach Choir of Bethlehem, the Woman's Alliance, Celtic Classic, and several school Masses, concerts, and recitals. Despite my love for playing instruments and singing, I cannot read sheet music. To compensate for this, my harp instructor records the part of the song she wants me to learn for the week on a small hand-held recorder. Through the audio examples she gives me, I can learn very hard compositions by ear.
In the months to come, I hope to get my first cell phone. I know that I will be able to get a speech output function on it. This software will allow me to hear my text messages, and it will tell me what letter I type when I respond to them. This will allow me to participate in what every other teenager is doing in their free time (even though I will be hearing not reading my text messages).
Braille and audio devices have changed my life in a very positive way. Using them, I can do almost all the other activities that people my age would like to engage in. They make me feel more a part of my school community and social circles. In summary, Braille and audio devices have done, and I am sure will continue to do, many great and wondrous things in my life. They give me many important capabilities and open many doors to entertainment and knowledge. With them, I have taken two leaps forward.


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