WBU-NAC (Junior Group) Excellent Work“Braille is knowledge, and knowledge is power.”)Luis Braille(
How do I acquire knowledge through Braille and audio devices?
U.S.A. Anna Avramenko (22/Female)
I strongly believe in this great and meaningful saying, because I had to learn how to appreciate braille from my childhood. I went blind at three years old. My father passed away, and my blind mother was left alone to raise her blind daughter. Growing up as a blind child in the recovering country of Ukraine from the fall of the Soviet Union, I was desperately lacking in resources. My mother taught me braille and I was able to write and read very well even before I started my first grade at the school for the blind.Despite the fact the school was very far away from home, my mother still sent me there with a big hope to give me a good education. However, even at the school for the blind I wasn’t able to continue using braille efficiently. Our country was so poor that sometimes it could not provide us even with Braille paper.
The scarcity of Braille books was another significant issue.The educational system in Ukraine took a new turn, but publishing houses didn’t have funding to reproduce new books in braille, and we struggled to keep up with our sighted peers in public schools. Most of the time we had to study by the old books released in the Soviet Union, or rely on our partially sighted classmates to help us with completing our assignments.
I’ve always been interested in learning foreign languages. Needless to say how challenging it was to learn English without having any accessible books. However, I found the way out, and began intensively studying English using audio books on cassettes recorded by the British counsel. In the year of 2008 I decided to participate in the Future Leaders Exchange program “FLEX” to study in America for one academic year. It is a highly competitive program, and I was very fortunate to have been selected to participate.
I was placed with the Wenzel family of Wisconsin. They were also blind, and they introduced me to the variety of ways how a blind person can be an equal and successful member of society. Throughout that year I accomplished learning English contracted Braille, learned about the existence of an amazing piece of technology like the Braille Note, and the web site Bookshare where I download books from now. My level of literacy had increased considerably and I realized how much I was missing out on productive studying back home. I was very fortunate to have been granted the full scholarship to attend the Colorado Center for the Blind. There I learned how to use an embosser, scanner, and other pieces of adaptive advanced technology.
Today I’m a student at Emporia State University in Kansas. I feel very confident and independent as I have access to all the necessary sources whether they are in audio or in braille. The Victor Reader and Braille Note are my best friends in college thanks to the generosity of some individuals and my university. Now I feel I can compete better with my sighted peers.
The ability to read braille is the key to literacy, success, and independence. It is an essential part of life of every blind individual. I consider myself as a very blessed person, because I was given this incredible opportunity to have been able read and write in braille anything I’d like. I know everything from the Nemeth code to music literacy, and I sincerely wish my peers back in Ukraine could also have a chance to succeed with Braille.