EBU (Junior group) Fine Work

"Braille forever"
Mari-Liis Täht (19, female, Estonia)

Although we are living during the IT era, I hope braille will be still used for a long, long time -- there must be many people in the world who, like myself, prefer that language.
Literacy is so important in the life of a person, it enables us to acquire information in another manner besides auditively. When we lose our sight braille will help us.
I am a student at TartuEmajõeSchool and I use braille which is irreplaceable in my life. I started to learn braille at the fourth grade. Until that time I still had my sight and I was able to read my first grammar book, printed in bigger letters, as well as some children's books. I used reading TV when learning both at school as well as at home. But then my sight started to deteriorate, and at the end I could not see anything even with the special screen. This is why I had to learn braille, so I could read books and acquire knowledge.
I studied braille in Tallinn, learning from a blind man called Vello, there was no one else around who could have taught me. I had no special difficulties in learning braille. Then I started my studies at TartuEmajõeSchool which was the only 12-grade school for the children with impaired vision. The number of children per class was small, the children with the similar disability could communicate well with each other. I use braille mainly for my homework and at school. Sometimes I have thought, with a little laugh, that it is even easier to read braille as the light in the room or the lack of it does not matter at all. Lamps are not necessary, so we consume less electricity.
I am quite an avid book reader myself. I stress the word "read" as I do not like to listen to audio books from a cassette or a CD. When I listen to an audio book, the way presenter expresses himself/herself, his or her reading speed and pitch of voice become most important. If all these sound correct I may use this option, however, I prefer to read myself. I have various reasons for doing this. Sometimes I read when I am in a bad mood. Then I grab a good book, full of adventures or action, and "escape to the world beyond" where I will find things that will sooth my mind. Reading a book is useful because then I can be alone. Nobody will ask me questions or will disturb me. I can picture myself in the middle of the actions described in the book. If it rains or is windy and cold outside, or if a storm rages I can read a book to escape from the boredom. I like the books with lots of descriptions, especially the books about nature describing the looks of an animal, a bird or an insect. This is a way for me to learn how it looks. I learned a lot from Aleksey Turovski's "Animal by Nature," especially I liked to read about the different butterflies. There is a most interesting species called Death's-head Hawk moth. The author depicts it, "It is a big and plump butterfly, reminding of a machine gun bullet. It has a scull-shaped dot on its chest and the wings that are wider than 10 cm, coloured brown, yellow and grey." As I have had sight once I can well imagine the insect. When I am reading, the text under my fingers starts as if to move, I can see clear images of what has been described. I have read that the adults of this species are characterized by their ability to produce a sound that can be used, for example, for stealing honey. "It hums at an even, high pitch, imitating with almost 100% the queen bee's comforting sound. The butterfly comes to the bees and starts singing, 'Go to sleep, go to sleep, girls, it's ok, drop all action, be very quiet.' The bees become numb, so the big butterfly may enter the beehive without hindrance, look for honey, eat it as much as it pleases and then leave. And so it keeps visiting the hive until the autumn, feeding from honey."
Regarding the books about nature, I can recall the book by Richard Roht that I read when I was studying at the basic school, called "Tales About Animals." Besides animals, the books describes in detail also their habitat. I learned what the badger's sett looked like and how the water flooded it in spring. I will always remember the special way the author depicted the fight between Urask, the Badger and the Fox, "Urask pretended it was slowly leaving and the fox followed it with its glance, but when Urask reached the other side of the cave it jumped in using another hole, hoping to surprise the Fox from the back. But the Fox had guessed its trick, clever as it was. Urask could not reach the halfway to the cave when the Fox met it, baring its teeth, and jumped at it. There was a short aggravating fight which Urask was losing, the Fox being so much faster, more flexible, and making better use of its teeth than the badger. Especially so that the fight was taking place in the middle of the cave that was more like tunnel, narrow, so the Badger, being fatter and more clumsy, was unable to move as fast as the Fox. The more so, the skin of the Badger was more tender, its fur not so thick and its teeth not so sharp. Soon its body was covered with wounds while its teeth could not penetrate the thick fur of the Fox. The pain as well as being afraid that the Fox might end its life forced the Badger to run for its life."
Besides the stories, I love to read poetry, especially about nature. My favourite author is Lydia Koidula with her "Thoughts of Autumn." I once presented the poem at a concert at St Paul's Church. It feels good to read the same text over and over, the last verse being especially emotional:
The clouds of high, as if driven by fear,
Passing the land and the sea;
The sound of the storks, calling out sadly,
Rushing for the home.
When I read this poem I can clearly envision a day in autumn, the storks passing the fields, crying out loud as if mourning. The clouds moving fast above my head. It is difficult even to begin to describe the emotion created by this poem, it can be only experienced.
Each time I read a book I gain something, my literacy improves, as well as my ability to express myself. Book reading has guided me to express myself in writing. I prefer two-verse poems, so here is one of them.
White fog floating, and there
Echoes the sound of the last bird.
Autumn stepping in, over the meadow,
The promise of the first snow.
Bare trees stooping in the wind,
No moon tonight.
Birds have left this place long ago,
Sunshine covered by the clouds.
When I am writing I use braille, because there is not always a computer at hand that I could use the exact moment that my thoughts occur. This way I can feel the text under my fingers right away and read it. Naturally, I am proud that I can read and write in braille. Many people who have sight have been amazed that I can read these "dots." I explain them that these embossed dots are easy for me to read and that they have given me a big part of everything I know. While computers are of big help to the blind and the people with visual disabilities, I could not imagine learning math without braille. There are so may different equations that I have to repeat again and again to learn them. I must be also able to read braille if I want to know what is depicted on geographic maps, otherwise I could not learn the location of various countries or cities. There are numerous reasons for learning braille and for keeping that language alive. I could of course listen to the PC's speech synthesiser, but my auditive memory is much less developed so I can remember better the things I have read myself in braille. Use of computer means in addition that certain requirements must be met before -- for example, space and electricity, but in braille one can express oneself also in less civilized locations. If I want to find the correct food product or spices, I may attach braille labels to the cartons or jars, and I can use similar system for my drawers.
I am not the only one in our family who has mastered braille, my mother learned braille as well when I started TartuEmajõeSchool. She prints study books with a computer, and so she acquired a new job. Unfortunately, neither my sister nor my father can read or write in braille, although they could learn. Although we are living during the IT era, I hope braille will have a bright perspective because I believe that there are a lot of people like me in the world who prefer this type of writing.


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