WBU-NAC (Junior Group) Fine Work
Braille: My Give and Take Relationship
Amy Albin (15, Female)

A woman and I were seated in a small office at my preschool.She was instructing me to perform the monotonous task of studying lines on a paper and telling her whether they were going "up and down" or "left to right."It seemed pointless at the time; I could not have been more mistaken.
The teacher soon informed me that each of those vertical lines formed a letter l, and each horizontal line was a c.I was starting to read Braille.I was not aware of it at the time, but in about five years, I would be able to read enjoyable children's novels.Now, over eleven years from that first day, I use Braille to acquire knowledge from school materials, leisure books, and the Internet.In addition, my literacy enables me to share this knowledge with people all over.The best part is that Braille empowers me to gather and distribute this wealth of information independently.
First of all, Braille allows me to prosper from the exemplary education I receive at school.Throughout my schooling, I have relied almost exclusively on Braille.While I am given auditory material on occasion, Braille is by far my primary literacy medium for education.My assignments and lessons, be they on paper or electronic, are typically available in Braille.I perform well in school, routinely earning As and A-pluses.Beyond the grades, I have learned so much in school regarding history, math, science, and much more.This accumulated knowledge has helped me to form a concept of the world in which I live.I consider myself truly blessed to have been taught Braille and encouraged to use it to foster a comprehensive, commendable school education.
Second, Braille has allowed me to read entertaining, informative books of all sorts.I started out reading simple stories with mind-numbing sentences on the order of, "The cat sat on the mat.""Nan ran into the van.", et cetera.By third grade, however, I could enjoy realistic fiction such as the Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park.These were great novels because I could delve into the intriguing life of a relatable character while continuing to improve my reading skills.They gradually progressed to their current level, where I am reading books suitable for adults.Nearly three years ago, I wanted a book on psychology.Available on Bookshare.org was a textbook designed for high school psychology students.I was entering seventh grade; I could handle it.I read the book in electronic Braille on my BrailleNote.Eagerly I read and enjoyed all the sections that interested me, learning about human psychology throughout the life span, memory, dreams, emotions, personality, hypnosis, and all other psychology basics.If I could only listen to that book instead of reading it in Braille, I can guarantee I would not have learned nearly as much--the way words are spelled, for example.From realistic fiction to nonfiction, Braille opened the door for me to the world of literature.
Finally, Braille has given me a vast stream of knowledge that takes the form of the World Wide Web.If I want to know the title or artist(s) of a song, I simply use my BrailleNote to type the lyrics into Google.I love to read articles found online from places such as Yahoo Voices, the Huffington Post, and Psychology Today.In addition, I have access to Cnn.com, so I can keep up with the most important events currently happening in the world.
I use Braille not only to acquire information about the world but also to spread critical knowledge to the people around me.This essay is a perfect example.Perhaps the most significant way I have used the Internet was to prepare a research paper advocating Braille literacy in the United States.I read multiple NFB articles including the Federation's 2009 report, "The Braille Literacy Crisis in America", which stated that a mere ten percent of the nation's blind children are taught Braille.In addition, I found a study conducted by Edward C. Bell, PhD, and Natalia M. Mino.This study associated Braille literacy with higher employment rates among blind people.I wrote a paper longer than six pages demanding that Braille be taught to all blind students who need it throughout the United States.Therefore, the Internet and Braille have not only provided me with knowledge; they have also helped me distribute that knowledge to the world.
As I have been writing this essay in Braille, I have been thinking to myself, "I am so lucky I can read and write."Having written a research paper of more than six pages on the subject, I am fully aware that many blind people are deprived of Braille literacy.As previously mentioned, the NFB report called "The Braille Literacy Crisis in America" stated that only ten percent of blind children in the nation are being taught Braille.I am extremely fortunate to be among that ten percent.I in particular have used Braille not only to gather knowledge from school material, additional books, and the Internet, but I have also distributed information via Braille to the people of this world.However, far too many blind people lack the opportunity and instruction required to live up to their full potentials.People like myself therefore have the obligation of educating the public that Braille instruction and the opportunity to use it are indispensable to those both totally blind and with a functionally significant lack of vision.I greatly hope that there will be a time when all capable blind people have a vast world of knowledge literally at their fingertips.


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