WBU-NAC region(Junior Group) Fine Work
The Braille Challenge
U.S.A. Kiana Harlan(17/Female)

For some people, being blind means having a disability and being incompetent, but this is not the case. Blind individuals are just as capable as sighted individuals when it comes to accomplishing tasks, thanks to Louis Braille. Knowing how to use Braille can make a huge impact on a person's ability to be independent. I had to learn this fact the hard way after losing my vision three years ago, and I now know that learning Braille ", perhaps, one of the best things I've ever done.

When I lost my vision, I had no idea how I would ever be a straight "A" student ever again. In my mind it was not possible for blind people to do anything like that. I was soon proven wrong, however, when I was introduced to the Braille writing system. Using this means of reading and writing made it possible for me to do my schoolwork independently. This was just a matter of willingness, and at the time I was not willing to do it. As the school year went on, it became increasingly harder and harder to do anything. It was not only at school, but also at home. I had to rely on someone constantly to be there and read the materials to me. After a while that got tiring, and I decided that learning Braille was worth a shot. Knowing how to read Braille really made a difference in my life. I could do everything on my own, and I no longer had to rely on my mom or my aid at school. Anything my teachers needed me to write down, read, or fill out, I could do myself. Math was a subject that is difficult for everyone, and even more so if you can't see the math problems. Someone would always have to be there reading the problems, and writing down everything you said. Once I learned the Braille Nemeth code, it became easier to work out mathematical problems. It also became easier to keep up with the teacher and my fellow students, because it was possible for me to easily write down and access the same information as they (. I didn't require someone to be there every second telling me what was being written down, or explain a table or chart to me. All I had to do was read the materials in Braille out of a textbook. At home things became easier as well. Braille could be used to label kitchen appliances and food containers. Independent living skills are important, when it comes to growing up and going out into the world on your own. I gained a plethora of independence just by taking the time to learn Braille.

Many blind people think that using Braille is no longer necessary, due to the popularity of technology. That's not true. Knowing Braille is very important, not only at school, but in the work force and everyday life as well. There is Braille on the door signs of all new buildings, and if you are not able to read these signs then how do you expect to travel independently? It can also be considered a backup to technology. Say for instance that you are home, and your laptop crashes, you have a huge paper due for school the next day, and there is no one around who can lend you a ride so you can go somewhere that has a computer with a screen reading program on it. What do you do then? If you were not able to read Braille then you would be up the creek without a paddle. If you were able to read Braille then all you would have to do is take out your Braille writer and write your project on it. There are other ways out there that will get the job done faster than Braille, but they're not reliable, and not all people can be trusted to be there when you need them either. If someone expects to be totally independent they need to be able to use all resources available to them. Braille is a resource for blind people that they should have. It makes life a lot easier, and provides you with a source that will always be reliable.

Learning Braille for a blind person is really the difference between "I can" and "I can't." Independence is gained by doing things yourself, and being proficient in Braille, in just the slightest, can do wonders. Learning it may be difficult at first, but in the end it's all worth the effort. If Braille had never been invented there would not have been people like Helen Keller or Ray Charles. No one would be there to show the visually impaired that they could do anything, and all hope would be lost. Braille is a gateway to the independence of visually impaired people, and also shows us that there is not dream too big because we can do anything, and do it all by ourselves.


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