WBU-NAC region(Junior Group) Fine Work
Unlocking Independence
U.S.A. Ashley Bernard(19/Female)

As we go through our day we rely on keys. We need keys to get into our houses, keys to the car, keys to enter our college dorm room or even, in some places, our college residential buildings. Our usernames and passwords that we rely on heavily to log us into web- sites act as a different kind of key. The key to independence as a blind person is made up of a series of six raised dots and is called "braille".
Blind people have three main methods of getting information; audio, sighted help, and braille. Audio has its limits; you can't use it to label printed documents, you can't always get materials via audio or electronically and it won't help you read things such as room numbers, elevator buttons, and signs that are typically written in only braille or print.

The problem with using sighted help for everything is rather obvious. You would always be reliant on another or on an electronic device in order to read. Therefore, the best way for a blind person to be fully independent is braille.

Whether you’re at home, school, or work, knowing braille is the key to success. It can be used for anything you can think of. Most importantly, you can use it to read and write. Braille is also useful for labeling any printed documents given to you, so that you know what's what. It is used to label other objects as well, such as folders, binders, boxes or cans that all look similar, and pretty much any other item you can think of. Putting braille on the buttons of the microwave, oven, and stove would allow you to gain independence in the kitchen. With the use of braille labels, the possibilities are endless.

If that isn't enough to convince you to learn braille, the how about this. Imagine that you joined an organization at your school and a couple of people from the organization invited you to dinner at a popular restaurant. Many popular restaurants have braille menus that you can ask your waiter or waitress for when you sit down. This way you can look at the options and order on your own. If you were unable to read the menu, you would have to ask someone to read it to you, which would take a while. By reading the menu yourself you would show your new friends that you were independent and didn't need tons of extra help.

Another place where braille is helpful is when you need to know the spelling of a name or word. It's harder to get spellings when listening to audio or even a screen reader. Often times it is also slower. When typing, you won't necessarily know you misspelled a word because a screen reader might still pronounce it right. Besides, constantly listening to every printed document you receive gets frustrating. You can't always listen at your own pace, and you can't skim quickly through a document the way a braille or print reader would to find a section fast or to see what the paper was about. Lastly, if you’re listening to something you may not realize someone's trying to get your attention. Everyone needs at least a few things in order to reach total independence. Blind people who hope to be totally independent need braille. It is actually statistically proven that a blind person is more likely to find a job if they're a braille reader. Braille is the only key to full independence. Without it, many people would be more reliant on others to access print. It would be like being locked out of your car, your house, or your room, except that for blind people it would mean being cut off from the written word.


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