Adult Group - Fine Work (Japan)
Braille Became My Purpose of Life
Fukuoka prefecture Batbayar Enkhmandakh [Age 24, Student, High School Division, Special Needs Education School for the Visually Impaired]
I feel that braille is indispensable to the visually impaired as a valuable tool for him/her to survive in the society. I would neither have been able to enjoy my life as I do now, nor have been able to take a step toward making my dream come true, without this mode of expression called braille comprising 6 tiny dots.
I lost my eyesight at the age of 6, and attended the school for the visually impaired from elementary to high school in Mongolia. Because it was natural to use braille at the school, I was convinced that it would be accepted in any society.
In the summer of my senior year of high school, I traveled to Japan and learned that visually handicapped people are studying to acquire qualifications for masseur and acupuncturist. In an effort to pursue the same, I started out by enrolling in the department of Japanese education at Mongolian University of Culture and Education.
The days that followed did not go as I had imagined, and the learning environment was harsh. I was embarrassed to use braille, being the only braille user. Furthermore, the school did not provide any textbooks or learning materials, as I was the first visually impaired to enroll in a Japanese college in Mongolia. Although I summarized in my head what I learned and memorized it for the first several weeks, I could not keep up with the class without being able to take notes in braille, and that left me in a dilemma.
I went as far as to consider dropping out of school as I nearly gave in to my own vulnerability under such poor environment and discrimination, but collected myself and decided to take notes in class in braille. The reactions of the teacher, however, were “what is that noise?,” “please stop tapping the desk with your fingers,” and “you are not wanted in my class,” while that of my classmates was “you are making too much noise.” In spite of this, I absorbed myself in the academic endeavors with a renewed determination to use braille, with a belief that I will be accepted by everyone once I earn a surpassing grade. This seemed to have changed matters because the teacher responded by telling me “Mandakh, you may go ahead and take notes," which I heard with a sense of relief. It had finally become comfortable to use braille in class without the sound of braille note-taking distracting anyone.
Then one day as braille became gradually familiar at school, I came across a textbook called “Minna No Nihongo (Japanese for Everyone)” written in Japanese braille, and through it, I actively studied the Japanese language and Japanese braille for the first time. At first it was challenging to distinguish Japanese braille codes, because many of the characters are expressed by 2 cells, whereas braille letters in Mongolia consist of 1 cell each. This textbook served as a huge “bridge” to my study abroad in Japan.
I further advanced my knowledge of Japanese language/braille/culture after arriving in Japan in October 2009, then proceeded on to the post-graduate course for acupuncture and moxibustion treatment at Special Needs Education School for the Visually Impaired at the University of Tsukuba on the following April. This 3-year course provided medical classes entirely in braille, through which I acquired the national qualifications for masseur and acupuncturist. I was also admitted of graduating the college in Mongolia and passed the N2 level of the Japanese-Language Proficiency Test.
There are some bittersweet memories in my involvement with braille. Communication with my first love was in braille. The delightful and lively days spent with him remain a pleasant memory in my mind.
I’m very particular about braille because while it is a part of my body to compensate for my vision, it is a sensing device that will support me for the rest of my life.
Every visually impaired person around the world, let alone me, would be completely lost without it. For all of us who sense the world by the touch of our fingertips, braille is a gift from God to be valued and cherished.
Just as braille is expressed by 6 dots, I have 6 pointers that I would like to share with everyone.
 To fearlessly take on the “challenge” to seize the “opportunities” around you and not look back, just because you’re visually impaired.
 To not to blame any of your mistakes on blindness, though it may have been caused by the fact that you’re unable to see.
 To be the one to change the way the people around you view you as a handicapped.
 To perceive issues as something enjoyable and deal with them gallantly with a smile on your face.
 To eat, have a good time and do other things with your friends in an earnest state of mind.
 To make yourself the person that you like instead of molding yourself into a likable person, and fulfill your life and live it to the utmost.
These are my ideals to today since my encounter with braille.
Braille is not yet substantially recognized in the Mongolian society.
There are still so many obstructions ahead until a full understanding for braille is gained. That is why I set my goal at spreading the knowledge and skills I learned in Japan throughout my home country, and exert myself in making life easier for the visually impaired. I am determined to continue living toward the future with the aid of braille.