WBU-NAC region Otsuki Award
“ACQUIRING INFORMATION THROUGH BRAILLE AND AUDIO: THE WORLD AT MY FINGERTIPS”
Canada Kim Kilpatrick(45/Female)
photo: Kim Kilpatrick

Many of my first memories revolve around books. I love the feel of books; with their smooth or rough, soft or hard covers. I love the smell of books and the rustle of their turning pages.
Being totally blind since birth, I could not see the books. But, I knew that I loved them because people read to me after they picked up and opened those books. My parents held those wonderful books in front of their faces. Then, I heard their voices muffled behind the book, heard the rustle of turning pages, and wonderful stories came forth.
I wanted to hear more of these stories long after my parents were tired of reading to me. I took matters into my own hands. I picked up those books, held them close to my face, breathed in that book smell, and nothing happened. So, I told myself stories as I held those books and turned those pages, and wonderful stories came forth. My career as a storyteller had begun. At first, that's what I thought reading was. I soon learned that reading was different. I discovered that I could not read as sighted people did. My parents assured me that I would learn to read with my hands.
I couldn't wait to learn to read. I was desperate to learn to read everything for myself.
I started learning braille when I was 6 years old. I was so motivated that I mastered the skill very quickly.
From the day I started reading until today, I am never without a book (or most often) several books.
I soon found that reading braille had many advantages. I could read my book at night under the covers and not get caught. I could read braille in moving vehicles and not feel the least bit sick.
I used to lug heavy, massive volumes of braille around with me. In High School, (instead of having a locker), I had a storage closet to hold my books, tape recorder, electric typewriter, and brailler.
My use of braille has changed over the years as technology has advanced. But, I am never without my braille.
During the past 5 years, I have been lucky enough to own a braille note taker with a braille display. I use this a great deal to create and read stories, books, articles, and many other forms of information. I can give presentations, follow along in meetings, and read quickly and easily anything that I can put on my note taker. I'm happy not to have to carry massive books around with me wherever I go.
I also use audio technology. I love audio books and podcasts and read in this manner when I am exercising, grooming my guide dog, doing dishes, or waiting for my bus.I love audio books too and especially love my iPod Touch.
I also use braille to label files, music, spices, and articles of clothing.
I am forever grateful that I learned braille when I was young, and I use it every day. Braille is my reading and writing method of choice whenever possible. However, I also love my computer, my iPod, and all of the technology which has helped me to be employed and entertained. Because of braille and my other technology, I can lead a full and productive life as a person who is totally blind.

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