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July 21, 2009
Dear President Obama:
I have been a reader of Braille since I was six years old. I learned Braille at a residential school for the blind in Louisiana at an early age because there were no specialized teachers in my hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana. I was sent to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and I was there until I graduated from high school in May 1983. I spent approximately fourteen years there, and I came home every other weekend.
After working a little over twenty years in competitive employment, I am thankful for the Braille skills I learned. Over the last three years I have been working as a Braille proofreader who works with a sighted copyholder to compare the Braille and print copies of material to make sure that formatting, paragraphing, contractions in the Braille code, and spelling are correct. Having professionals in this field ensures that all blind children and adults get high-quality Braille materials from my employer. I love this job, and it gives me a full and productive life. Without Braille I would not be able to read music for singing or playing, read to any children or grandchildren, participate in Bible study, or compete on terms of equality at work.
Right now we face a severe shortage of teachers of the blind. Knowledge is power. Together we in the National Federation of the Blind are changing what it means to be blind. Without Braille blind people will not be able to participate fully in society. Thank you for taking the time to read my story on the importance of Braille and Braille literacy for the nation's blind population.