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Mary Donahue
San Antonio, Texas

August 27, 2009

Dear President Obama:

I have been a Braille reader since I was seven years old; I am now fifty-five. I took to Braille like ducks take to water. When I went home on vacation, I always had a Braille book in my hands. I read whatever Braille books I could find, both in the school library and from the Wisconsin and Texas state libraries for the blind. The only time I read talking books was if I could not read a book in Braille.

I studied Spanish and Italian at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and the National Braille Association transcribed most of my books in those languages. Without those books I would not have kept up with the rest of my classmates.

Finally in 1989 I began a career in Braille proofreading, which has lasted over twenty years. I am currently proofreading textbooks, handouts, bank statements, menus, and other items for the Education Service Center, Region 20 Braille Services, in San Antonio. When I was working two customer service jobs, I contracted with three Braille transcribing agencies and with four local transcribers to manage my workload. Braille was that important to me.

When I am not proofreading, I must have at least a dozen electronic Braille volumes in my PacMate Omni, featuring a refreshable Braille display. With these electronic books I can keep files and reread them at a later time if I want to. Use of electronic Braille means no more bulky Braille volumes for me to send back to the state library.

If it were not for Braille, I would not have my current job, and I would not have developed such a love of reading. I would not be able to deliver presentations about Braille proofreading for various National Federation of the Blind affiliate conventions and for my local chapter. Braille is beautiful.

Mary Donahue