WBU-AP (Junior group) Fine Work
"How Braille and Audio devices helped to enrich my daily life"
Vanessa Ashby Murby (23, female, Australia)

The above title reads far better than the statement: Braille and Audio devices helped to enrich my daily life FULLSTOP, no delete that and insert EXCLAMATION MARK -- ah! Much better.
This year, at the age of 22, I decided it was about time I learned Braille, well at least properly. By age 15 I had surrounded myself within an audio world based on listening and memory. I still felt somewhat in limbo, as a vision impaired person struggling, thus avoiding, written print versus the vision impaired person not being encouraged to learn Braille. So I taught myself Braille from the internet, thereby opening up a world of opportunity -- a private sanctuary of international bound. Who knew that six dots would (time check -- "2.29" a female voice announces) in fact, make such a difference to my life and the way in which I live it.
Born with congenital cataracts (and several other eye conditions), my life as a vision impaired person was often seen from a different perspective. I never allowed my eyesight to hold me back -- to me it was either "go hard" or "go Home" as I fought to be recognised for anything other than just "blind". At age 15, my condition was diagnosed as Hyperferritinaemia, a rare condition existing in less than 0.03% of the world's population. The condition causes iron (ferritin) crystals to form in the eye, damaging sight and bringing about deterioration to mere light perception.
In 2003 I undertook a surgical option that did give me 30% vision back for three months before my sight again faded into shadows and then darkness. (Time check -- "2.35".) I run my finger over both hands pointing to the raised dots on my Braille watch.
Thus began, and since continues, my determination to seek out new gadgets and gizmo's; ironically enough, I find my sighted fellows wanting to use my aesthetically designed devices rather than their own visually based gadgets. (time check -- "file, settings, Rockbox info, 2.44"states the British voice of my Ipod Nano). I think for me it's always been about doing what I want, proving myself to myself. The hardest competitor is yourself and for me ok is never going to be enough. When people ask me "How do you do it?", I quickly reply, "stubbornness, a word so-called just for me. "I may have to go about things differently but I want to do it the same way as everyone else, probably more -- but definitely no different.
Learning Grade Two Braille was a four-month journey of which the biggest struggle for me was not the actual learning but rather the feeling that I must be the only blind adult who doesn't know it yet! However, I found confidence in my old friend "memory" and so my fingers followed. (Time check -- "main menu, options menu,time and date, 3.08") I run my fingers across the refreshable Braille display of my Braille Note PK -- I have now come to realise and appreciate just how much more of my day is accessible, thanks to the unique and ingenious arrangement of six simple, yet powerful, dots.
I am still reading at moderate speed which is something I have to work on as for me that is the only difference, for now, between the audio world at chipmunk speed and the reading world at Braille tempo. Just what does it matter when I am reading, actually reading -- not just listening, for the first time in six years.
There are always going to be times when I question myself, especially when people are telling me,"you're blind, you're not supposed to be able to do it ... "But I cannot quit, I will not quit -- when I start something, not only will I finish it, but I will do it right and all the better because it was hard. But hey, let's face it, tomorrow it will be just another adventure waiting to be accessibly uncovered, audio described, Braille embossed and tactile treaded!
Therefore, how have Braille and audio devices helped to enrich my daily life? Well, I would just like to call my life average for the moment.
"Control Save," speaks JAWS.
NESS (Vanessa) Murby -- breaking down the dots.
The end.


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