WBU-NAC (Senior group) Excellent Work
Six Dots To Independence
U.S.A. Tracy Lynn Spittle (39/Female)

You ask the question, how can a person become independent by learning braille? Well, give me Six Dots, and I will tell you!

Dot One! I have been a braille reader since I first started school. And, I have always loved books and reading! I have very early memories of being read to as a child. But, I wanted to read all by myself! The day that I came home with a paper containing a paper cutout of an elephant and three braille sentences about that elephant is a day I still remember. I could read those three sentences all by myself. I know that I drove my grandmother crazy reading that little story over and over again, but Dot One to independence had been gained.

Dot Two! As we go through our school career, there are certain milestones that we all reach and remember. For me, one of those was sixth grade graduation. By this time I had learned most of the braille code. I could fly through book after book with my fingers, and I did so, daily. I was an honor roll student and loved learning and trying new things. Imagine my surprise and delight when I was asked if I’d like to read the welcome speech at our sixth grade graduation ceremony. What, they wanted me, the only braille reader in the class, to stand up in front of all of those parents and family members and use my braille dots to welcome everyone? Yes, I wanted to do it! Wow, they had chosen me to use my braille to do this important thing, and not a student who could read print! I had thought braille was great, before, but it now seemed even more awesome in my mind. I proudly used my braille and gave that speech. And, Dot Two was gained!

Dot Three! Next came middle and high school. Braille was still my constant companion. Braille for math; braille for reading; braille for science and social studies, too. Braille got me through that first term paper. It got me through the exit exam for high school. It even got me through the SAT for entering college. And then, there I was, walking across that stage, receiving my high school diploma. And, my knowledge of braille walked with me every step of the way. Braille was still there when that college acceptance letter came in the mail. Dot Three had been gained.

Dot Four! Now it is off to that somewhat scary world of college and graduate school. Many people had told me that braille would not be used that much here. In some ways they were right. Braille textbooks were replaced by recorded material. But, once learned, braille is always there. My Perkins Brailler went to college right along with me. I didn’t use it in class, but every paper was first drafted in braille before being typed. I even put a cork board on my dorm room door along with push pins and a braille alphabet card so friends could enjoy braille too, while leaving me little messages. So, braille proudly walked with me once again when I received my Bachelor’s and then my Master’s degree. Dot Four had now been gained.

Dot Five! A career was next in my life’s journey. And, braille followed me down that path as well. My chosen career was that of a teacher of the blind. Even before I completed my college work, I was approached with a teaching opportunity. A vision teacher was needed in a district near me, and they had not yet found one. They needed someone who could teach braille. That was exactly what I wanted to do, and so I jumped at the chance. My knowledge and love of braille had just provided more independence as the doors to my career were opening. I have now been teaching for sixteen years. I have now taught the very young and the very old, sharing with them all my love of braille. Add to that my new position as director of a summer camp for blind children, sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina, and it is clear to see that my love of braille extends in many, many different directions. So, I can definitely say that Dot Five has been gained.

Dot Six! Braille has been and still is my companion down this path we call life. It now helps me as a home owner, a wife, and a mother. Braille labels adorn all of my important papers, insurance policies, tax documents, birth certificates, and many other printed items that are part of a family’s everyday life. This helps me to find them independently at any given time. Recipes for new and different meals for the family are in braille. Let’s not forget all of those games that I’ve added braille to so that family game nights are always a success. So, I can safely say that through these activities, Dot Six has been gained.

Now that I have gained all of those awesome braille dots, wouldn’t you say that I’ve gained independence, too? I certainly believe so! I live a life filled with love, happiness, countless accomplishments, and a desire to help others. And, braille is right in the middle of it all. So, I have my Six Dots to independence, do you?


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