EBU Otsuki Award
Braille in my Life
Russian Federation Ivanov Vladislav (14, Male)
photo:Ivanov Vladislav

Since childhood being able to see I enjoyed reading very much. I learned to read at the age of four. I read everything: books, newspapers, magazines to quench my thirst for knowledge. Even entrance hall inscriptions wouldn’t be missed.
Loss of sight became a great tragedy for me. Unable to see the world, to look into my friend’s and mates faces, to go for a walk with my peers I found myself in complete emptiness. But the worst thing for me in that troubled situation was the inability to learn something new about reality from books. I felt that I had lost something important. At that age I didn’t realize that there is nothing more valuable than health. The main tragedy for me was my inability to read. Books are the main value of life. They are my best friends, my tutors. Though I had tried to replace reading with audio and TV, I couldn’t get what books gave me.
Then I entered school. There in the boarding school I understood that sight loss is not the end at all. Tutors and teachers taught me to live life to the full despite blindness. I remember myself cooking for the first time, cleaning my room, tidying up clothes. Soon I learned everything and didn’t feel my disability. I mastered the dot alphabet quickly. And my new life began – a life with Braille. Braille offered me great opportunities. When I had learned the Braille reading technique I got to know a lot of what I didn’t have time for during my not so long-lasting sighted childhood. I jumped at Braille books like a cock at a gooseberry. I read every book that our quite big library had, then I began to take books from VOS Kazan library. I was reading textbooks, literature and popular scientific books. I discovered the world again, though without colors it was alive, amazing, exciting! So many new impressions! Even Antarctic animals shared their nutrition, migration and reproduction secrets.
When I was listening to my favorite books it seemed like the narrator’s voice bothered me, that it stands between me and the heroes in the book. While reading the same books in Braille I felt the paper with my fingers, heard the rustling of pages and the familiar smell of book dust (this smell does really exist!). Sometimes I even seemed to be able to see letters. I experienced that kind of spiritual affinity and tough contact with my beloved heroes that I felt as if I lived and breathed with them in their world, solved their problems, worried about their misfortunes and celebrated their victories. I wasn’t impressed that much while listening to a narrator reading though it was very expressive and emotional compare to reading by myself. I believe that while dealing with a book there shouldn’t be an outsider even if it is a narrator’s voice.
But what is the most important is that reading books in Braille helps to form punctuation skills, develop spelling vigilance. That’s what my Russian language teacher says. I agree with her completely. Some of my classmates don’t like to read, they listen to the audio more often and their literacy is weak, in both spelling and punctuation. Meanwhile my writing is quite correct and I don’t make many mistakes.
Of course, it is impossible to do without a computer, cell phone, tablet or other gadgets in the age of technology. I use them all. I often get treatment or examination in hospitals, sometimes far away from home and friends. Then “talking” books brighten up my monotonous leisure time. But as soon as I get a chance to read I dive into real books thanks to Braille. Listening to audio books is routine while reading is a real party, meeting with my dear friends.
Of course knowledge of the dot alphabet didn’t give my sight back, but it gave me a possibility to read my favorite texts. Once I read an unknown to me blind author's lines that were “to be happy you need just a little bit of sunshine in your sighted eyes”. I think that he meant someone close talking about sunshine. There are my mom and friends and classmates and teachers who are ready to help any minute. But without the Braille alphabet I wouldn’t have had this strong feeling of being protected despite my secure home front. Braille is one of the most important parts of my happiness.
While learning the dot letters I was amazed by the intellect and admired the talent of the person who created the alphabet for the blind. Later I got to know quite a lot about him. I realized how great and significant his work is, the importance of his alphabet to the blind, the that it is still used by peopleliving in the 21st century.


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