WBU-NAC (Junior Group) Fine Work
The One Handed Braille Reader
Lindsay Kerr (19, Female)
As a nineteen year old citizen living with both a physical and visual impairment, I have had to find creative ways to get my class assignments completed. As a result, I have had to learn Braille technologies that assist me in a number of ways. One way that Braille technology has assisted me was in my high school's homecoming pageant. Another way Braille technology has helped me is when I give speeches to various groups that help people with disabilities. In light of what I have had to learn, I have the obligation to pass my knowledge on to students that come after me.
A major challenge that I struggled with because I do not have the use of both hands is writing Braille on a Perkins Braille Writer. When I first started learning Braille, my teacher of the visually impaired thought using a Slate and Stylus was the only way to go because I do not need two hands, but obviously she was wrong. I found this option challenging because I could never get my paper to stay in place, not to mention I could not check my work for mistakes. This is because when using the Slate and Stylus I have to write from right to left, and the braille shows up on the opposite side of the paper. After trying and failing, I took it into my own hands to find out if a one — handed braille writer existed and if they did where I could get one. I found out that they are available, and found one on eBay in working order. Since having it I have been able to keep up with my class assignments at the same rate as my former classmates.
During my senior year of high school, I was given the chance to run for homecoming queen. The process of running for homecoming queen is that I first had to apply to run. Then my grades were checked, and I was eventually told I was qualified to run. The first activity was the homecoming rally. After that was the Homecoming Pageant. There were three parts to the pageant before I found out if I made it to the top five. These three parts consisted of evening wear, talent, and theme wear. For my talent, I did a skit on how I used Braille to pass my State Exit Exam. I did this by brailing my lines out. After putting this on I was given a standing ovation, and that is what landed me in the homecoming court. I did not win the title of homecoming queen, but the experience was amazing, and I met a lot of great people along the way that supported me.
The other skill that Braille has given me the ability to do is to speak to crowds of people about the challenges I have faced because of my disability and how I have overcome them. I have done this by writing my speeches on my Braille Sense and then reading them to these groups of people off the Braille display. One example of this was when I was asked by the Starlight Foundation to give an award to General Schwarzkopf's daughter at the annual Starlight Gala for her father's contributions to the Starlight Foundation. When I gave this award, I was able to let the audience know how accessible the Starlight Foundation's social network Starbright World is for someone with a visual impairment. Another time that braille has helped me was when I was at the Best Buddies of _____ Christmas party and was given the honor to speak about my experience running for homecoming and teaching the other students at my high school that you do not need to let your disability to stop you from your goals. I hope that message will be passed along, and soon others will believe in their capabilities more than they already do.
Despite all the challenges I have faced in my education due to my visual and physical impairment I have found the career path I want to follow. I want to teach other students with visual impairments. I feel that I have the ability to give these students information about after school programs and other resources that can help them become successful in their careers and beyond. I do not want them to go through the journey that I had to go through to get here. Some of the resources that have helped me have been the Braille Institute and Center for the Partially Sighted, which is an after school program and an eye clinic for people with visual impairments. These programs have helped me meet people who are going through the same or similar things that I am going through. If I was not Braille Literate and had not learned of these programs, I would not know what resources were available for someone with visual impairments. Thanks to braille, I have come far, and there is no limit to the places I intend to go in the future.