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August 28, 2009
Dear President Obama:
In the United States we pride ourselves on giving everyone the opportunity to pursue his or her dreams. In particular we encourage our children, and we give them every tool we can to help them succeed. The majority of blind children, however, are not taught Braille, which puts them at a severe disadvantage when it comes time for them to do things like attend college or get jobs.
I am one of the lucky ones. My mom was blind, so my parents understood how important it was that I learn to read Braille. Each night they would read to me from books that had print on one page and Braille on the facing one. My toys and games had Braille markings on them so that Mom and I could play together. This practice ensured that I would find Braille in as many situations as possible, and it encouraged me to associate reading with having fun.
By the time I started school, I knew the alphabet, and my parents and teachers made sure that I had Braille books in the classroom. When my friends started checking out books from the library, the librarian and my vision teacher gave me a selection of Braille books to choose from that I could take home and read. I grew up loving to read. I never questioned the fact that I should learn Braille; it was a natural thing for me. In high school I took all the classes that my friends took, including subjects like algebra, physics, and chemistry. I did my work in these subjects independently.
Throughout my education I have been involved in school and in my community. Without the ability to read confidently and independently, I don’t know how I could have fulfilled my responsibilities as a leader in several organizations. If I had not learned Braille, I don’t think I could have successfully begun my college education. If my parents and teachers had not given me the opportunity to become literate, I would be a less confident and competent person today.
All children, whether they are blind or sighted, deserve the opportunity to be the best that they can be. Literacy is one of the major keys to success. Children who learn to read, whether they learn Braille or print, have doors open to them that others do not. Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. I hope it has helped illustrate how important it is that blind children learn Braille at the same time their sighted peers are learning print.