WBU-NAC region(Senior group) Fine Work
“How do you acquire knowledge and information through Braille or audio devices?” (Illustrate with some interesting personal stories/episodes.)
Canada Khadija Mohamedbhai (31/Female)

How do you acquire knowledge and information through Braille or audio devices? (Illustrate with some interesting personal stories/episodes.)
I am legally blind as a result of retinitis pigmentosa.I was born with low vision and in the last ten years my vision is down to light perception. Therefore, I use Braille and audio devices like a daisy player to listen to talking books, and a screen reader (JAWS) to navigate on the computer.
Braille and Audio devices are my main sources to access information. I learned Braille through correspondence from the hadley school for the blind in 1996. I learned JAWS (screen reader) and was introduced to audio devices in 2002 and have been coming across new audio devices ever since. Without Braille and the audio technology, I would not have been able to access information and accomplish my lifetime goals.
During the time when I was in school, I received my materials in Braille and in electronic format. I had chosen Braille and JAWS as a medium to write my assignments and exams.
Thereafter, I started using Braille and audio devices in my everyday life. I use Braille to label items in the kitchen, i.e. spices, flour, items in the fridge and freezer etc. I have sewn Braille tags on my clothes to identify colours. I also use Braille to write recipes, write addresses in the address book, ask for Braille menus in the restaurants and feel for Braille numbers when riding elevators. I utilize Braille labels for my files and place a Braille note on each print document that is in the file stating a brief description of each document in the file.
Likewise at work, I make Braille labels to name my files, make reminder notes for when I deliver presentations and take notes to assess my clients when I don’t have access to a computer. In addition, I teach reading and writing Braille as part of my duties at work. When attending conferences, I usually request for handouts to be given to me in Braille just like sighted individuals would get in print format.
When I first moved to Kingston, I was given a tactile map with Braille by an O&M instructor from CNIB so that I can learn to navigate my way around in the city of Kingston. I refer to the tactile map when ever I go to a new area in Kingston.
As mentioned above, I use JAWS (screen reader) to navigate on the computer. I use JAWS to surf the internet, type a word document, work on an Excel spreadsheet, access database, make PowerPoint slide shows, chat on MSN, skype, Facebook.Moreover, I also train my clients to use the adaptive softwares i.e. JAWS, Zoomtext, Guide, System access, and Kurzweil 1000.
Additionally, I use Kurzweil 1000 (software that converts print in to electronic format) with a scanner to scan my mail and have the Kurzweil read it to me. I use a Braille watch and a talking clock to know the time. I also use a talking bathroom scale to weigh myself and a talking kitchen scale to measure the ingredients for the recipe I am cooking.
Whenever I am out and about, I carry a slate and stylus and a digital recorder in my purse to jot down any information that I may have received from somewhere or somebody. For example, about two weeks ago, I ran in to a friend that I had lost contact with for almost two years. I jotted down her phone number and email address with my slate and stylus so that I can now keep in touch with her. I always keep a notebook with a slate and stylus beside the telephone to note down any information that a person on the phone would like to give. Another time, I was at a conference and with my little digital recorder, I recorded the presenters lecture for future reference. To me the slate and stylus to write Braille is just about the same as a pen and a piece of paper for a sighted person. Accessing information through my audio devices is just the same as accessing print information for a sighted person.
To identify my bills, I use a bank note reader and then organize my wallet so that when I am out, I know exactly the arrangement of the bills in my wallet. I also use the talking feature on the ATM machines to withdraw cash from my account. Moreover, I use JAWS to pay my bills online. I.e. phone and internet bills. I also receive a monthly bill statement in my email and use JAWS to access the bill.
I would like to conclude my essay by stating that without Braille and audio devices, I wouldn’t have been as independent as I am now. Braille and all the audio devices that I have mentioned in this essay help to not only access the information but also serve as tools for being independent.For example, without a screen reader, I would have had to ask a sighted friend or family member to find the information that I need. Without Kurzweil 1000 and a scanner, I would have had to ask a sighted friend or family member to read my mail. Furthermore had I not known Braille, I would have to memorize my entire speech whenever delivering a presentation.
I definitely cannot imagine my life being as independent as it is today without all the tools mentioned in this essay. As the daylight brings a new beginning to people, these tools have brought a new revelation to people who are blind in terms of independence and self sufficiency in today’s fast moving world.


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