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August 28, 2009
Dear President Obama:
When I think of Braille, I think of places I've never been except through my fingertips. I think of places I have been because my fingertips allowed me to make the money to go. I think of dreams that came true because the secrets to making them reality were found in the pages of a Braille book.
When I was a child in school, there was no question whether totally blind people would learn Braille. Today people make the decision more complicated by saying that technology provides us with alternatives, but what technology could ever replace your need to read, to scribble a note to your wife on your anniversary, or to write yourself a reminder to get the cake for your daughter's birthday? Technology supplements what and how you read, but never does it supplant your need to read. So it is with your brothers and sisters who are blind.
I make my living writing computer programs. One overlooked period, one misplaced indentation, and the program I've written for my day's pay doesn't work. How are those mistakes avoided or detected when they happen? For blind people, through Braille. If much of what we learn is through imitation, how do we see the spelling of words or the punctuation used to form grammatically correct sentences? Blind people use Braille.
In a world forged by so many technological marvels, please help us be on the right side of the digital divide--not casualties of the information age, but significant contributors in it. Leader or loser, specialist or spectator: reading makes all the difference.