EBU(Senior group) Excellent Work
My Truth -- My Braille
Russia Svetlana Dubrovskaya (49/Female)

It is well known that every person understands the truth in a different way. My truth is my Braille, and the technical advances which were laid down by this wise man, who became the chief of my life.
In religion?there is?an assertion?that diseases?are sent?to people,?so that through them?the soul?could be healed. The personal tragedy of a blind boy, Louis Braille, has become such a spiritual healing for millions of disabled people in all countries and all continents.

I became deaf when I was a little girl, it was flu complications. To make it easier for me to adapt and to live a full live, my parents enrolled me in a kindergarten for deaf children, and later to the school of Tambov city. There they taught me dactylology, gave me the ability to lip-read, and I was learning to read and write in a “sighted” way. After I finished this school, I entered the technical college. A new problem floated up in college ? my level of vision started to diminish. I kept it a secret and never told anybody about it. I was afraid that they would make me leave. I was studying hard and eventually I got a specialization of technologist for cold working metals by cutting. But I never had a chance to work within my specialization as the doctors gave me B2 group. On doctor’s advice I found a job in Belgorod VOS Institution. It was 25 years ago.
When they provided me with a hostel, I found myself with two other blind women. It was very hard for us to communicate as they didn’t write in a “sighted way” and me I couldn’t use Braille. Everybody was irritated: I barely saw, but I couldn’t say or hear anything. And they heard well and could speak, but couldn’t see anything at all. That is why they kept pulling and pushing me all the time. How was it possible to communicate at all? Once my neighbors put a Braille note on my bed for me to could read. I didn’t understand anything, only shrugged. I was putting it here and there, was trying to read it using my eyes, or touching the relief print with my fingers. There were conflicts anyway, and misunderstanding was ever-increasing. I was thinking: “What should I do”? I knew that soon I would not be able to see and I decided to take a stylus and a slate. At the beginning I asked my neighbor to make an alphabet on Braille paper in a column on the left. Next to it, in the right column, another woman who could see and hear, wrote a “sighted” alphabet. And I began to learn how to read and write with Braille using this hand-made alphabet without any teachers. At first it was very slow and with no success but soon after it became more easy to communicate with visually-impaired persons.
Nine years later I lost my vision completely. Doctors gave me B1 group. By that time I was able to read Braille books fluently. I went to the library for blind people. This became my favorite place to where I always wanted to return. I was an active Braille reader and even received a certificate of an exemplary reader during the 200th anniversary of Louis Braille. I’m very proud of it.
For all blind people Braille system is the most important way of communicating with the world. I can’t imagine how my friends could have lived without the ingenious Braille’s invention. They use a special alphabetical Braille card where above each Braille letter there is a letter of Russian alphabet, and they choose with their fingers to make up the right word. A sighted person reads what is written and by moving the finger of a blind person, is able to indicate what he wants to tell him.

Deafblind people have their own interests and they hold on to their life. Among the visually-impaired there are a lot of lonely people, however they never ask the time because they can use Braille watches for that. Or, for instance, they don’t need to ask a sighted person to find a can ? a special Braille sticker can be stuck to it. The same stickers are used for drugs and even on spool to find out the color of a thread.
It scares me to stay all the time at home without any information. But for the deafblind people in Russia it is not a problem anymore because now they can use computer with Braille display. It converts ordinary text into its Braille version. Disabled people are keen to receive new computer knowledge. The director of Deafblind Russian association Sergey Sirotkin, one of the best specialists in the field of disability, has organized courses in the Moscow Institute “Rehabilitation by means of computer”. Many people with visual and hearing disabilities seek to study in this Institute. It is very often that people think of Braille display as a sort of massager when they first touch it. Dots on the display come up and down, and it is a pleasant sensation for fingers. Most of the time the studies are not very easy as very often people have never worked on a computer before the loss of their vision. Unfortunately, these are only short-term courses, where they teach how to work with Braille display and also have lectures on basic computer knowledge.

The teacher Nadezhda Golovan, who works with deaf blind people, makes a lot of effort so that disabled people can master the program for beginners. Of course it is not always easy to study. At home people keep working, using their lectures, training very hard, learning how to type fast, how to use email, telephone and looking for information on the Internet. It used to be a necessity to learn the order of the buttons on the keyboard for the blind. And now, with the display improvements, there is no need to do it anymore.

Russia has never been short of associations. Such people still exist, when the matter of computer teaching for the deafblind has increased. S.A. Sirotkin and S.V. Fleitin (Moscow) teach dozens, maybe even hundreds of people by correspondence. The officers of the Belgorod library for the blind ? Elena Anikanova, Sevtlana Utkina and Daria Pinus, are helping blind people a lot to work with computers in Belgorod.

Belgodor is the city where I live. I feel support not only from my teachers but also from the governance. In December 2011, right before the New Year I received a long-expected gift ? very modern portable Braille display BD-40-001 Pro, 40 numbers.

The party “Edinaya Rossiya” (United Russia) responded to my teacher’s letter and handed me the latest technology system. I am a deaf blind dumb person who has the energy to live a full life!
In the Moscow region there is also a wonderful city, Volokolamsk, with a rehabilitation center for the blind where a person works who can truly be called a bright follower of Louis Braille ? a teacher of IT, German Belousov. This man, together with typhlo-sign language interpreters Polyvyan, Fomina and Khrabrova, opens the eyes of all deafblind people. For those who are deprived of hearing and vision it becomes easy to work with computers through the Braille display.

The basis of success for all blind people was laid by the great Louis Braille. This person not only conquered his disease but also gave us, his friends in misfortune, the possibility to discover the world. Louis Braille granted us a great opportunity to walk straight to the best future and forget about our disability. Such a person is really worthy of the adoration of his followers.


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