WBU-NAC (Junior Group) Fine Work
How Do You Gain Knowledge Using Braille and Audio-Devices?
U.S.A Abby Burton (13, Female)

I am a thirteen-year-old braille and audio-device user.Without these devices and good braille skills, I would be limited in the things I could do independently.When I was in second grade, I didn't want to use braille.Since I have some vision, I thought I should be able to use print.Braille is dumb and I didn't want to be different.
After all, Braille is for blind people, and I wasn't blind.I used to say I would do anything to see out of both eyes for one day. I really wanted to be able to read and write print “so bad" that I even enlisted the help of my best friend to teach me how to read and write print.
However, I didn't really understand the benefit or pleasure of reading braille or print until third or fourth grade. Even then I was much too slow to be able to use print because my eyes would get tired after a few minutes.So I grudgingly stuck with braille even though I hated being different from everyone else. Then in third grade I developed a love of writing and decided that braille was the best way for me to write my stories and read them to anyone who would listen.
Just as I started liking braille, a package came with a Braille note apex.I hated it at first glance because I just started getting good on the Perkins Brailler. I didn't want to start using a fancy little machine that I didn't understand. I didn't use that Braille note until I met my new braille teacher, Mrs. Bryant, in sixth grade.I still didn't like braille very much. Mrs. Bryant forced me to use the Braille note, or that is how I viewed it.
I didn't understand why I should change my whole way of doing things. In sixth grade, I had a lot of trouble reading.Mrs. Bryant said I sounded like a robot when I read.I was also very slow, but I understood what I was reading, and my teachers really encouraged me to become a better reader.We worked hard, and I started sounding like a civilized human being when I read.
I started seeing the bright side of things in seventh grade. I realized that the Braille note meant that I didn't have to carry my heavy braillewriter between classes. Around Christmas, I got a Victor Reader Stream New Generation.We set up a BARD account and I went wild reading books that I could choose independently.Earlier this year, I got a Book Share account.Now I love books and writing equally! Without braille and audio-devices, I would have trouble cooking, labeling, keeping organized, and doing homework.
Last year I had this huge mammal report for science, so we searched for information on the echidna using the Wikipedia reference on the Victor Reader Stream.I wrote my report on myBraille note, translated it into a Word document, copied it to a flash drive, and handed it to my teacher so she could print it.
Before I had my Braille note, my assignments took longer for the teacher to receive and grade.Now I can just give the teacher my assignments on a flash drive.
Braille and audio devices are important to me because I use them almost every day.If one of my teachers came in and told me that I couldn't use these devices, I would tell them that they were not taking away my technology.The reason I would say “no” is because this technology, especially the Braille note, has helped me so much and made my school life so much easier for everyone involved. I can now be flexible and independent.
When I first started using my technology, I hated it.If you gave me a choice in sixth grade, I would have thrown the technology out the window.However, now I rely on my Braille note for many important things. The calculator on the Braille note is great, but I also like to use a simpler low-tech device to do my math.The Cranmer abacus is a very useful and simple tool to have if you have to do math. I started using the abacus in first or second grade and, just like the Braille note, I hated it.I began to enjoy using it and now I use it all the time.I really like the independence it gives me.
I use braille and audio-devices at home, too. My family has an iPad and when I turn on voice-over, I adjust the speed so it is comfortable for listening.I also have an iPhone that I use to look up videos and text with voice-over. I also use braille measuring cups to make yummy recipes.Sometimes my dad will tell me to get my measuring cups, because I'm making banana bread.
The Braille note is great and so is the Victor Reader Stream, but I also like to use a Perkins braille writer.It comes in handy for some things when you can't or don't want to use the Braille note.Refreshable braille is wonderful, but for some things, there is no substitute for hard copy braille.Some of those things are my textbooks, vocabulary sheets, study guides, and tests. Last year, I even started to learn how to use JAWS and Windows Seven on my laptop.
My feelings about being visually impaired and using braille and audio-devices have changed.Although I do things differently, these devices don't make me different because people like me for who I am.People don't care whether I use braille or print. They care that I get the job done, and that I can learn and participate along with my classmates.


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