WBU-NAC (Junior Group) Fine Work
My Braille Advetures
Hannah Neils U.S.A (16, Female)

 Braille is the most amazing thing that I've been able to experience. Here is an example of one of my situations as I've grown up. When I was learning braille I was not crazy about it. After all my years of reading it though, I have learned to love and cherish this gift. I'm so thankful that I've had the chance to learn this written language.

 My school life has been easier because of the use of braille. Braille has guided me to grow as an individual and a reader. It has allowed me to experience things I never thought imaginable, such as, leading me to meet my vision teachers, educating people about braille, and becoming a stronger student. My possibilities are endless when it comes to using braille and the sense of community that has developed from interacting with other braille readers. When I am in school and I can do my own work without a sighted companion it feels amazing!

Through my journey of losing my vision and learning braille, I have endured many highs and lows. The friendships that I have started and fostered since I lost my sight are extremely valuable to me. Every last thing that I have dealt with these last eleven years has given me the chance of a lifetime. I would never want to change anything that has happened, such as the doors that have opened directly relating to braille. I was able to become pen pals with a girl who read braille. I can honestly say that I love my life the way it is because I belong to a large network of people like me. One of the other highs to add, is I can read books in braille on my braille device instead of breaking my back from printed braille volumes. One example is the Harry Potter series which my family has loved reading and I had the chance to read because it is available in braille. One extreme low was the hours spent reading against my will, while trying to increase my speed.

 For those people losing their sight and learning the written language that is braille, I would tell them it gets better every time you practice.  It has been difficult but I made it to where I am today due to practice. The reasons I have made it to where I am today, besides practice, are my amazing support systems, my dedicated teachers, my fantastic family, my helpful classmates, and my determination. I realize that life doesn't go the way you want it to all of the time. I mean, who plans to lose their vision. No one.

One thing that I've found interesting, is that some restaurants, such as Perkins and McDonalds, have braille menus. There are also certain websites that you can buy braille materials from, such as braille games, braille measuring utensils, and braille watches.

 One thing I find frustrating is the amount of space braille takes up. My textbooks have their own shelves in my Braillist's office because they come in sixty plus volumes. These volumes sometimes only have ten print  pages of the book in them. For instance, books like my math book that have lots of problems on a single print page could possibly be three to four braille pages per print page.

 It would nice if braille was offered in high schools as an elective. Sighted people would then understand that we don't deserve less than they do just because we are blind. Instead, they would understand that we as blind people learn the same things as they do just in a different format. Some examples of how we learn differently are, tactile graphics, brailled materials, and talking calculators.

I always get asked how I, as a blind person, do things such as read, do homework, and keep up in class. The thing they don't understand is that I have alternative ways of completing tasks. For example, I would write my answers in braille or tell someone who is sighted what to write. They might ask, "How does that work if you don't have the work in braille"" I would inform them that I have a sighted helper read the printed work to me. Another possible answer to their question would be to take a picture of the print and put it into an  app such as Tap Tap See or KNFB Reader.

One time when I was in fourth grade my vision teacher wrote a short story for me in braille to read because I did not like reading. The title was Cathyville.The story was about a village of people. One character, called Martha, had the ability to make herself invisible and sneak up on people. Martha's family was the only family that had superpowers. At the time my vision teacher wanted me to enjoy reading. I ended up loving the story but sadly she never wrote a sequel. 

All of my years spent using braille has given the people in my life exposure to this amazing written language. For instance, my siblings learned their names in braille. My Mother learned a little braille when I was learning. After seven years of having a daughter reading braille she decided to become a certified Braillist. At this time, I'm a junior in high school and my Mom is taking classes to become a Vision Teacher. All of this happen because I lost my sight and started to learn the most amazing written language in the world, braille.


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