|EBU Otsuki Award
Spain Ms María Jesús SÁNCHEZ OLIVA (61/Female)
| The anniversary of the death of Louis Braille was approaching and the stylus, like it did every year, paused next to the embosser, paper neatly slotted in, and called out to the six dots comprising the Braille alphabet. It was time to think up a few lines of recognition, of gratitude and respect. They all hurried over; some perched on the cell; others jostled, waiting their turn. “Dear maestro,” one of them started to write, but when he finished the “D”, number one, instead of asking for help to cross over to the next column and punch out the “e”, pushed a bit too hard and knocked him onto the floor. “Are you crazy? What on earth is wrong with you today?” the stylus started to say, both angry and puzzled at the same time. But he had sustained such a hard knock that he could only curl up on the edge of the embosser and wait until he got his breath back.
Position number 1 didn’t even see him crawl over the sixty-six grooves separating them: in his eyes there was only enough room for the rest of the dots.
-I have to give you some very sad news ? he said quietly, trying not to lose his calm-, but hold on to your hats, I don’t want any of you to faint. At this, the dots began to tremble; it sounded quite ominous. ? I just heard that we are going to disappear from the world of arts and culture, from the only light illuminating man and his understanding: the blind no longer need us.
-What do you mean, they don’t need us? ? They all broke out, to a man.
- How can they read if they can’t see? And how are they going to work if they can’t write? And how are they going to live without learning things?
-Apparently someone has invented an artificial man who can do everything real men do. Jaws, I think they call him, and he can read faster and is not as heavy as we are, and takes up a lot less space … and, that means we’ll be just useless, we’ll be stuffed away in a cupboard or a museum … He broke off here. A lump rose in his throat on mentioning that word that sounded like death and decay, and he burst into tears. He sounded so disconsolate that soon all the others were crying too.
They were all about to fall into the void when number 6 came running up. He was sweating so profusely he nearly got rubbed out. He propped himself up on the edge of the next cell and shouted:
-Would you all please shut up and listen? The other five, more out of fright than anything else, stopped crying and listened, hiccupping the while. - You may be my brothers, but I am ashamed of you. You ? he glared at number 1 ? always showing off because you are used to shape 23 letters; and you ? turning to number 2 ? because you can make 15. And as for you ? he caught number three’s eye-, you’re needed for 16. Number 4 was next to come under attack ? You think so highly of yourself because we need you to mark out 15 different characters and you, number 5, to form 13. And today, faced by this awful news …
The rant continued.
- Instead of finding out what is going on, like me, the humblest of the humble… I’m only useful for 6 letters and I need you guys just to cross something out … But I try to see what’s going on and what do you do? You all start blubbing. Cowards!
-You mean to say you found out what’s up? asked number 1, poking his head out. - I thought you had drowned in all the tears!
- What did you find out? the others wanted to know. They were anxious, but they let him go on feeling important, as they all knew there could be no alphabet without them.
-Well, there is a man called Jaws with mechanical eyes and he can read the information that comes up on the screen of this machine called a computer. Blind people, who have, of course, no intention of renouncing all they have struggled to achieve, just love it. Frankly, I’m not surprised; computers allow them to be just like people who can see, whatever their profession. In fact, I think people who can see will end up being their equals because computers are replacing the printed word. But that does not mean we won’t still have our place.
Quite the contrary. I see us everywhere nowadays: on lift buttons, medicine bottles, cash dispensers … they have even had to add special features to computers to include us. Well, I’m off to write the “e”! Coming with me?
And taking the stylus by the ears to shake him out of his reverie, they flew back to the embosser and together they wrote:
Dear maestro: You can live on in peace, because inventors never die. Their inventions go on forever. No blind person need ever be illiterate because whilst just one of them feels the need to learn the Braille alphabet, this system will never become a museum piece, because, just like those who can see, the blind will be able to write notes, projects, and even speeches to be read in public.