WBU-AP(Junior Group) Fine work
Changing What It Means To Be Blind With Braille And Mobility Aids
Philippines Ma. Adisa L. Nahil (24/Female)

I believe I am living an extraordinary life! I can never forget one question which is often asked at church retreats, recollections and other spiritual activities - "Who am I?"

This question is being asked in order to remind us who we are in the eyes of God and to help us determine what is our real purpose in this world. If you had asked me this question fifteen years ago, I would have answered, "I am worthless. I'm a blind person who has no place to live in this world.

In fact, this was how I felt about blindness when I became aware that I was blind. I had no idea then about Braille and mobility aids. However, my perspective on life changed when I came to know God with the help of my family, friends and teachers and with the ability to use Braille and mobility aids.

When I was in my childhood and the realisation that I was totally blind came to me, it was a great shock and I felt that I was in a hopeless situation. I did not bother thinking about my future as I believed that I was a useless person. I felt that there was no point planning for my future as there was no way for me to study. I could neither read nor write as I could not see the print letters. I also could not move around without assistance since I could not see the roads or signages. I asked God in desperation why he had created me if he had allowed me to be blind for my entire life.

One day, I found the answers to all these questions. Then my attitude towards blindness began to change as I learned to read and write with Braille and to move about or travel with the help of the White Cane. I became a very active student in my Braille class and I did not hesitate in asking many questions or in seeking clarifications from my teacher. At home, my mother helped me with my Braille writing practices, especially by reminding me what were the corresponding dots for some letters.

besides reading and writing Braille, my teacher also taught me how to use the proper cane movements and sighted guide techniques. This enabled me to move around the campus by myself. The teacher also trained my mother and father how to use the sighted guide techniques so that they could walk with me around the neighbourhood. Thus, I was greatly inspired and I was filled with determination to take the journey into the extraordinary life.

Indeed, this gave me very good preparation when I entered mainstream education. In a class-room where all my class-mates were sighted, I found it quite frightening and challenging at first. Both the students and teachers had no idea at all on how to handle a vision-impaired person. As time went by, however, I managed to pluck up courage and told myself I should not be deterred. I regarded all the challenges as God's way to make me strong. I managed to make friends with many of the students and I found them to be very encouraging and supportive. Moreover, I had been equipped with the two most important tools in my life - Braille and the White Cane. Most important of all, my family believed that I could succeed.

As I continued my studies, I began to look forward to a wonderful future ahead. My life had changed from misery to being extraordinary! I am surrounded by people who never stop showing their love and kindness to me in spite of my blindness and my limitations. I can roam around and explore the world by using my White Cane. I can read any kind of books that I choose and I can write stories, poems, essays and articles with the help of my Braille kit. I am able to inspire other people with my stories and by the way I live my life, which is truly amazing!

I am very thankful to God for having bestowed intelligence upon the inventors of Braille and mobility aids. I believe that the invention of these tools is God's way of reminding blind people that they are his special creation and that he will never abandon them to a life of darkness and hopeless despair. With developments in technology, other methods of reading and writing are now open to the blind. Nevertheless, I will never forget Braille because it was the first writing system that I learned and this has enabled me to write my name, my first paragraph, my first essay and the first poem that I composed.

Other navigational tools have been invented but my White Cane is still the most important and the best tool for me. With the White Cane, I can travel independently - it has really enabled me to find my way to school and to roam around my neighbourhood,. Indeed, the Cane has acted as my "eyes" for about fifteen years. Certainly, it is because of Braille and mobility aids that I have been able to change my attitude towards blindness.

Now if someone were to ask me who I am, my immediate answer would be, "I am a blind person but I am living an extraordinary life."

For me, this is changing what it means to be blind with Braille and mobility aids. I want to express my heartfelt thanks to Almighty God, to my family, to my teachers, to my friends, and, of course, to the inventors of Braille and mobility aids. You have all contributed towards making my life an extraordinary one because it is full of hope and opportunity. Truly, life is worth living!


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