WBU-NAC(Senior Group) Fine Work
Because I Read Braille
U.S.A. Jeremiah Rogers (36/Male)

I seldom see anyone write to extol the virtues of braille without also noting the grim statistics surrounding braille literacy.Perhaps they write about what percentage of blind children are being taught braille.Sometimes they write about what percentage of working blind adults read braille.

I'm not going to write about either of those vital statistics, because I'm writing to celebrate braille.I'm writing about the rewards of reading braille.I contend that, because I read braille, I'm rewarded.

I'm rewarded with opportunity.I'm rewarded with responsibility.In short, I'm rewarded with life. It's not impossible to attain some or all of these opportunities and responsibilities without braille, but here's how braille makes life possible, how braille enriches life, for me.

I've had the good fortune of access to braille throughout my childhood. Born totally blind in the late 1970's, I was taught braille when my sighted classmates learned print.All of my primary and secondary schoolbooks were in braille, and I used braille to produce my schoolwork and notes until near the end of college.Nonetheless, I didn't appreciate the value of braille to me until the last year or two.

Because I read braille, I'm rewarded with the opportunity to read books to my children.Thanks to those magical dots, I can give my children the gift of rhythm and repetition in Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See or in The Foot Book by Dr.Seuss.I can give them the gift of counting and the days of the week in The Very Hungry Caterpillar.I can share with them the magical journey through nursery rhymes, without forgetting the words.We can learn about what a bat sees, about potatoes and peas, about birds and bees, and about Poe's Annabel Lee.

Because I read braille, I'm rewarded with the opportunity and responsibility to insure that those children I read to can get a good education.I can read books about the various curricula they'll encounter as they attend school.I can keep notes about their performance in school.I can help them solve pesky math problems, spell tricky words like abbreviate or Wednesday, and remember that my very educated mother just served us nine peanuts.We can learn about commas, llamas, pajamas, and mamas.

Because I read braille, I'm rewarded with the opportunity to play as we grow and learn.We can play Monopoly, Scrabble, and cards.We can learn about basketball, and the difference between centers and guards.We can fill out scorecards.We can learn to work on cars, see and name the stars, and conquer gymnast's bars.

Because I read braille, I'm rewarded with the responsibility to work as a professional and provide for those children.Using my braille display, I can comfortably call the right number to participate in a conference call, without having to race with synthetic speech to dial the numbers.I can draft and follow notes to lead a presentation.I can emboss and read my to-do list.I can be sure I'm on the right airplane, give airport staff my ticket instead of my itinerary, get a ride to the correct hotel, and show up at the proper location for meetings.

Because I read braille, I'm rewarded with the opportunity and responsibility to head a household.I can keep notes about which bills have been, and which ones need to be, paid.I can keep a grocery list and, when I've bought those groceries, label food containers such as cans, jars, and boxes.I can prepare the contents of those containers via braille labels on the stove, microwave, and dish washer.I can keep clean clothes via braille labels on the laundry appliances.Come to think of it, this reward of braille is a lot of work!

Because I read braille, I'm rewarded with communication.Using braille, I interact with family, friends, and colleagues.I can use a braille display to input information into my cellphone, read social networking content, and send and receive text messages and email.I can research, note, and recall candidates and issues at the ballot box.I can take notes from, and write down questions to ask, medical professionals.

Because I read braille, I'm rewarded with the opportunity to pursue and enjoy hobbies.Braille makes it possible for me to use stereo equipment and other electronics to take in music and sports.I can label and organize compact discs and memory cards.I can braille notes on learning to play the guitar, write essays such as this one, and keep a journal to someday pass along to my grandkids who'll think I've always been old.

In large part because I've been given the gift of braille literacy, I've the rewards and responsibilities of being a spouse, a father, a family member, a friend, and a hobbyist.Because I read braille, I confidently, competently, efficiently fulfill my civic responsibility.Quite simply, there's no aspect of my life which isn't bolstered by my use of braille.


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