WBU-AP(Senior group) Excellent Work
How Braille And Audio Devices Are Helping Me To Lead A Normal Life
Philippines Margaret Grace Ong Veloso Lim (42/Female)

I was visually impaired at the age of seventeen due to Macular Degeneration.
Since then, my life has never been the same. Reading books was a struggle and studying was a very tiresome task. I had to use magnifying glasses to aid my reading and I had to rely on someone to read to me. When I came across a word that I did not understand, I just ignored it because I could not access the dictionary. I would usually avoid the oral recitations like the reading of Bible verses during church services because I was unable to read the regular print.

One day I learned about a correspondence course in Braille reading at the Resources for the Blind Inc. (RBI). I registered for the course and hoped that Braille would be able to help me with a lot of things. I became an avid Braille reader and I could not believe that I was enjoying reading as I had disliked it so much previously. No longer did reading seem like a torture because it was now so pleasureable.

Being able to read with ease has made life much more convenient. Braille has enabled me to make lots of notes, to write my favourite recipes, to label things such as my CD'S, identify print documents, jot down my grocery list, and make my personal directories. Indeed, Braille has enabled me to keep my confidential files secure and inaccessible to unauthorised persons.

In fact, I have a top secret recipe in food processing. I need to keep this recipe confidential in order to protect my business interests. As the recipe is written in Braille, I can work with it freely without having to worry that other people would see it.
Moreover, the Braille is written on a clear plastic sheet so that I can wash it if there are food spills. Likewise, I use Braille to take note of my email passwords, ATM card PIN numbers, and other confidential information which I wish to keep secret.

Audio devices also play a big role in helping me to live a normal life. For example, my talking watch keeps me on time by automatically setting off the alarms, announcing every hour on the hour, or by telling me the time at the touch of a button.

My talking calculator helps me with my mathematical in-puts and out-puts by announcing all my calculations. The talking thermometer enables me to check my body temperature independently. I also have a digital Bible which enables me to get to the verses with ease. Believe it or not, I was able to listen to the entire contents of The Holy Bible page by page. This would have been impossible to do if the Bible had not been stored in an audio player.

There are many other audio devices which are currently beyond my reach because of financial constraints. I hope to be able to acquire them as soon as I can afford them.
That include the advanced softwares for text messaging and giving speech feedback when using the cellphone.

An ID MATE is most helpful for shopping because it can read the barcodes and identify the products. I have the tendency to take products that I do not intend to buy because I mistake them for something else. I can avoid such errors with the ID MATE.

Sometimes on my travels, I am unable to locate my luggage at the baggage carousel in the airport. With the luggage locator, I am able to identify my bag when it beeps and blinks at the touch of a button. The luggage locator can also be attached to easily misplaced things.
An MP 3 player is very helpful because it allows me to store the audio files I have downloaded from the computer. This enables me to store my educational audio materials such as the foreign language conversion course. I can then access it anytime and anywhere because the MP 3 player is so portable - infact, I can just carry it around in my pocket!

My favourite audio device is the computer screen-reader software. For instance, with the JAWS software, I can gain access to a wide range of software applications such as the word processor, spreadsheet, computer-based slide shows, the web browser, email and database.

The computer screen-reader has given me the power to work like a sighted person - I can read or write books or documents with ease; I can check for spelling or for the meaning of words in the built-in dictionary. I can make my financial tatements using the automated spreadsheet or I can make my slide-shows like a professional. I have confidence in making my presentations as I can write my speaker notes in Braille for easy reference.

Indeed, the computer has given me the power not only to learn but it has also connected me with people around the world. Therefore, I am able to undertake on-line correspondence courses abroad. I am currently a student of the Hadley School for the Blind under the Adult Continuing Education Programme.

The computer has made my pastime much more fun through on-line shopping. I have access to social networking sites to communicate with people and to play games that I can enjoy as they are designed for the blind.

Truly, Braille and technology have definitely changed my life. They have given me independence and they have made my life most fulfilling and productive. They have given me the power to grow intellectually, socially and spiritually.


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