EBU (Junior Group) Excellent Work
Saying Goodbye to “ally” and “ation”!
UK Lewis Shaw (15, Male)
I have always been the only blind kid in my school right from Nursery through Primary School and now in the Academy. People say it’s good to be different but I am not so sure….lots of people have referred to me as “the poor wee blind boy” and “the blind student” but guess what? I have a name….I AM LEWIS SHAW!
When I was three years old, Mrs Jardine (the teacher who helps blind and partially sighted kids) and my family, after many meetings and a lot of talking decided I was going to go to the local main stream school in my home town. The other choice was to go to a school for blind children about 100 miles away…my mum and dad were not too keen on this as I would need to stay there Monday to Friday. I think my sister Bryony was the only one keen on this!
So the day came for me to start my education. Off to nursery I went.They also decided I was to be a Braille user….nobody as far as I remember asked me!I was a good boy then and did what I was told. I made happy noises and pretended I was having fun.Once the Braille was tied into the Jolly phonics singing games it did become quite good fun and the keys on the machine did not seem as lethal!
Primary one…I am still blind and begin to realise I am different. Maths in Braille…nightmare!Number sign, Number sign, Number sign, Number sign, Number sign, if they say it again I will scream!
By Primary two the school had twigged I was not interested….they tried everything..even bribed me with sweets.
Primary 3…they tried a new tactic…….this one worked…..the “Maths Mischief” What is this I hear you ask….well, this is a wee monster who breaks into schools at night time and leaves rude cheeky and very silly messages around the class…the trick is that each one is brailed so if I want to know the joke I must try to remember the order of the dastardly dots. This had me interested now as I like silly things…the messages said such things as “Lewis wears his swimming goggles to bed!”“Primary three are going back to nursery!”“Mr Thin (the head) wears a nappy to assembly” The trick worked as I ended up sending messages back to the “Mischief” I began to smell a rat as we got near the end of the school year as the notes were brailed on the exact same postcard paper we had in our Braille room…and sometimes, they even smelled of Mrs Delaney’s perfume! They think I don’t know but I know it was the staff! It was a good trick as it got me jotting and dotting!
The Abbie books were next on the list and they were written by somebody with a wicked sense of humour…this again got my attention. Abby went for a bath while her family, shopped…she burned a pizza while she soaked. At eight years old this sort of stuff made me laugh.
About this time I decided to get my school involved…I started up a Braille club every Thursday lunch time. I taught my own wee class. .we made our own work sheets and did the alphabet over five weeks and numbers on week six. Mrs Delaney used to write the key numbers on the children’s fingers with a pen and I put Braille stickers on the keys.
We raised some money in the local community and used the money for the club and best of all for end of session parties. We served hot chocolate and flumps, played loud music and I got to hand out certificates to all of the troops who had completed the course. In all I managed to get about 140 children brailling!
By Primary six and seven I was onto decimals, fractions, percentages and worst of all…algebra! I am still struggling with algebra and I want to give up!The teachers had made a plan for how far along I should be by the end of Primary school and I am pleased to say I hit the target and actually overshot in some areas. Let’s not mention the algebra again!
Into Annan Academy, the biggest School in the area, over 1000 people in the building every day and guess what? Only one blind kid…ME! I set to work and brailed door plates on hard plastic, every door I should use was labelled I also made fancy desk name plates for some of the good teachers.
I am in my fourth year now and head up to fifth in just a few weeks time. I can Braille well now and just as I began to relax…a bomb shell….THEY ARE CHANGING BRAILLE!The new big thing I have to absorb is UEB.After a good swearing and a stamping of the feet coupled with a bang of the cane on the floor three or four times…I just had to get my head in the right place for this and get on with it. The funny thing is I don’t need to learn too much new stuff this is more about forgetting stuff you already know.
So, in my Braille room at school we decided to find out which signs we could no longer use and immediately brailed them for the last time and put them into our own “Braille Jail” where they should remain…one or two of them seem to sneak out form time to time, especially “ble” and “to”. They haven’t realised yet that they are lifers!
When Mrs Delaney came back from a UEB course she told me she overheard a lady on the course saying to another one…”it’s a sad day when you have to say goodbye to “ally” and “ation”! We both fell about laughing at this and so far I have remembered to forget these two!
People have mentioned to me that I will never remember the new changes. I am here to prove them wrong.Without Braille my life would be so hard so I am up for this latest challenge. Don’t give up; the beginning is always the hardest. The moment you stop accepting challenges is the moment you stop moving forward!