EBU (Junior group) Fine Work

"I have regained light with braille"
Thomas Mondelli (20, male, France)

Dear Louis Braille,
My name is Thomas and I am twenty years old. Three years ago, I lost my sight because of a brain tumour, so I had to learn Braille. No one can imagine what it is to brutally not being able to see anymore. That is why, although I am grateful to live, I have this dull and painful feeling that lingers deep inside of me....
I am writing you this letter to congratulate you for having readapted Barbier's military code of 12 raised dots, since it has now become the only way to write for blind and visually impaired people in the world.
Having made some research about your biography, I realised that you have had a successful professional career. That was a great innovation for the time, especially when considering that you had really few technical means at your disposal. I compliment you: Please, believe me when I say you are the symbol of the beginning of emancipation for blind people.
Since the Braille tablet and the raphigraph in 1841, which were widely used at the Royal Institute for Blind Children, there have been many advances in terms of devices to write Braille. Thus, the first typewriter, which was a clever invention for sighted people, however remained quite difficult to use for partially sighted persons. Indeed, if they knew the keys of the machine, they could not read again what they had written. In 1896, that gap was filled in, when the first Braille machines appeared, which made it possible to bring out the Braille characters depending on the position of the fingers on the keys. In 1951, the famous Perkins appeared: This 6-key Braille typewriter made it possible to reread oneself. By the way, this invention is still used: Well, I use it every day for my studies, and to write you this letter! Later, there were other creations but I will only mention the note pad. It is a small case that has the same function as the Perkins and can contain several pieces of work, like a small library. The note pad is also convenient to carry, since it is much lighter than the Perkins, and depending on the model type, you can put it in your bag.
As for me, learning Braille has been quite pleasant, although at first I did not want to. It took me about five months to be able to use integral Braille, a way of writing that was totally unknown to me. At the start, because of a slight tactile problem, I had difficulties to read. And it is still hard for me to read geographical maps or relief diagrams. And what I learnt has been quite useful in my daily life as well as in my professional life.
In order for me to improve my skills, I carried out a traineeship in the town of Marly-le-Roi, within a rehabilitation centre for blind and visually impaired people. I could learn how to use a keypad, and I learnt how to cook. I also had occupational therapy sessions, so as to develop my sense of touch. I also took locomotion classes because it is essential to know how to find your way wherever you have to go. Actually, I wonder whether you used to walk with a white stick. I am asking you this because, as you know it, it is very hard to be autonomous in a world of sighted people, who very often do not realise the difficulties we have to face.
After the rehabilitation centre, I went to the National Institute for Blind People in order to find careers guidance and then be able to begin my working life as soon as possible. Indeed, after I quit my catering studies because of my disability, I could not find another job. Therefore, I entered a class of adaptation to learn how to organise my work and I took advantage of that occasion to learn abbreviated Braille. I only have the end of the last part left and then I will have completed my learning of the abbreviated Braille. After that, I will enter another course to try and find a new professional career, by carrying out several internships, since I think that a traineeship within a company is the best way to figure out whether a job is suitable or not. I hope I will find my way through the professional world. What is hard for a sighted person is even harder for a person with a visual or another handicap.
Last but not least, I would like to talk about the specialised devices that exist for disabled persons, and which pose a serious economical problem. Why aren't they more affordable?
I am grateful for the attention you will give to my letter and I hope you will have a pleasant tactile reading.

Thomas Mondelli

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