WBU-AP (Senior group) Excellent Work

"How Braille and Audio devices helped to enrich my daily life"
Gaynor Michele Marsh (64, female, Australia)

Braille has opened my eyes to the wonderful world of touch. Pardon the pun, but it is true, Braille has liberated me. I now feel in control of my life again. Although my ability to read the written word diminished quite suddenly over the last two years, I am confident that with my recently acquired skills of reading and writing Braille, I will be able to reinstate much of my independence.
For instance, I can now label videos and CD's, and find the names I want, without the stress of having to get a sighted person to do it for me. I can confidently open a labelled can of baked beans that I might be really looking forward to, knowing that it won't be a can of peaches, which doesn't really go well with toast. However, the best thing is that I can now put my paperwork and filing cabinet back into some sort of order again. I feel it is important for one to be in charge of one's own private papers wherever possible, and not having a spouse means I can shoulder this responsibility alone, while I still have my marbles. In the event of losing them (my marbles, that is), I am sure my children will take over willingly. Meanwhile, I am happily sifting through the chaos, and putting Braille on everything.
When my sight deteriorated dramatically in a short space of time, I became very despondent at the prospect of having to rely on others to help me fulfill daily chores such as shopping, cleaning and gardening. I can now write my own shopping list in Braille and take it with me when the shopping lady comes to pick me up. It is better than trying to remember everything in my old head. Speaking of old, I was convinced that at 63 I was too old to learn Braille; to my astonishment, I completed the Grade One Braille course in just four months!
I am so glad that others had so much faith in me and talked me into it.
I have always been an avid reader and writer. I love writing short stories and poetry. In fact, I have been the member of a creative writing group for many years. The group is part of the University of The Third Age, which is for retired people. I have a computer with a voice-activated screen reading programme which enables me to write my stories, poems and letters. Thus, this technology has allowed me to continue as I did before.
I do miss not being able to curl up in bed at night any more with a book in my hand. However, I have learnt to look forward just as much to turning on a talking book at the same time each evening. Indeed, I love my talking books so much now that I have another book on the go during the day in the kitchen. Some people say to me, "Don't you get the books muddled up in your head?" I reply "Not really except if they are both murder mysteries. Then one has to be really on the ball."
My talking watch is a godsend as I need to know what time it is quite often. Its noisy rooster alarm wakes me up on the mornings I have to get up early to catch a bus. The talking scales often tell me I have put on a kilo or two; then it has the cheek to wish me a nice day. After a lovely hot shower to wake up, I quickly do some clothes and make my way to the kitchen to put on the kettle. I remember to put my new little Gizmo on the edge of my cup which lets me know when I have put enough hot water in; this liquid level device is very clever because it makes one noise at the water leveland another at the milk level. What could a blind person ask for first thing in the morning? It certainly saves one from getting blisters on the fingers -- which would have made it very difficult to read Braille. The audible traffic lights give me a feeling of security as I make my way across the street with my white cane in order to catch a tram. On the tram and trains, there is usually a recorded voice which announces the stops along the way. This facility is also provided at the railway stations, thereby making life so much easier for blind and vision impaired travellers. Truly, I seem to be so busy these days learning new things such as pottery, which is a real touchy-feely medium. Hopefully as my Braille sensitivity develops with practice, so will my sculpturing ability.
Hurrah! -- three cheers for Louis Braille is what I say!


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