WBU-NAC (Junior Group) Fine Work
How can blind persons become independent by learning Braille or music?
U.S.A Daniel Dintzner (24, Male)
I became an independent person by learning the written word in Braille under my fingertips.
After starting second grade I progressively lost my sight until I became totally blind. I began to learn Braille with a teacher of the visually impaired (TVI) from my local school district named Mrs. McDermott. Flash cards were a major help in my mastering of the basics of Braille. Each Braille symbol was put on a different flash card, so I could learn what they represented. I learned to read all the un-contracted Braille, music Braille and some contracted Braille this way.
I also learned the basics of the Nemeth Code with the use of flash cards.When I started to learn the multiplication problems, however, I created a small problem!;each multiplication problem was written on a separate flash card with the answers to the far right. The classroom teacher and TVI were both amazed at how I never got a problem wrong and that I was very fast at it. I would take my right pinky finger and read the answer of each problem. I had taught myself how to read Braille with every finger on both hands including my pinkies and thumbs. My TVI then cut the answers off my cards.
The summer after I graduated from elementary school, my local library closed down for renovations. The librarians at the library knew my grandmother well because she was always in there looking to find audio and braille books for me. They asked my grandmother if she would be willing to take all of the Braille books in their collection, because they were short on storage. She agreed to take the books on one condition that all the Braille books had to be accompanied by an identical print copy.
I spent six to eight hours each day reading Braille aloud while my grandmother followed along.When I came to a word in contracted Braille that I did not know, my grandmother would say the word and spell it out.She would have me read and reread the word over and over again until I knew what the contracted Braille meant.I read book after book for an entire summer. In total I read 57 Braille books.By the end of the summer, I was a very strong, quick, and independent reader in Braille. It opened a whole new world for me.
I attended Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts for the first time in September, of 2005.I was the first student in Perkins's History, to start at the school with a mastery of the Braille Code.While at Perkins I took piano lessons for seven years.Where I continued to learn to read and write Braille Piano Music. I taught a Master's Class in Music Braille to the entire school.Perkins School for the Blind had a large collection of old Braille Music Sheets that was uncatalogued and in disarray. Only one person on campus could fluently read Braille music and she was my piano teacher. She taught me well.The music teacher and I spent a whole year going through the Braille Music and putting it into order. I graduated from Perkins School for the Blind, with the highest Grade Point Average of my graduating class, in June of 2013.
I currently attend Springfield Technical Community College, in Springfield, Massachusetts. I am a Nominating Committee Member of the Perkins School for the Blind Alumni Association.I am the 2015 Treasurer of the Association of Blind Students for the National Federation of the Blind of Massachusetts.
I have finished two internships with the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind. The first internship was for the Holyoke Community College Disabilities Office, in Holyoke,Massachusetts.I helped students obtain their textbooks and other materials in an accessible format for the fall semester.I also showed them how to use any assistive technology that they wanted to learn and use.Volunteering at the Chicopee Public Library in Chicopee, Massachusetts I further taught people how to use assistive technology so that they could use the computers at the library.
My second internship that I just completed was being a Research Assistant for the Western Massachusetts Employment Collaborative, a service of Riverside Community Care.My work entailed surfing the web to look for job opportunities for disabled persons.
How did Braille make me independent? The world is at my figure tips. I am connected to the world by my laptop and I serf the World Wide Web with my Focus 40. Like sighted people I can read the newspaper and take adventures in pleasure books. I am a successful college student, I have succeeded at two internships, helping other blind and disabled people become independent. I will continue to help the Blind and Disabled Community in Massachusetts, in the United States, and around the world for the years to come. With the skill of Braille literacy, the world is my oyster．