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Katherine Schneider
Eau Claire, Wisconsin

August 27, 2009

Dear President Obama:

I was born blind fifty-five years ago. I learned to read Braille in the Kalamazoo, Michigan, public schools. Being able to use Braille proficiently is responsible for the shape of my life. After receiving my PhD in clinical psychology from Purdue University, I taught, counseled, supervised, and administered counseling centers at four universities. In retirement I’ve written a memoir, serve on several local boards, and am preparing a children’s book for publication. All those tasks require reading, taking notes, and writing documents, aided by my early Braille learning.

But Braille also helps with the little things in life that make it more fun, like playing cards and copying a recipe from a friend. Then there’s working Sudoku puzzles; I’m not good enough at that yet to tell if being able to attempt them is a blessing or a curse. Because I can read Braille fluently, I can read Scripture at my church, which means a lot to me. I’m all in favor of recorded books and screen readers for computers, but for information one has to study carefully or refer to often, there’s no substitute for Braille. In college I had only one book in Braille--my calculus book--but I never would have passed that class without that Braille book. I hope for the blind children of today and tomorrow that efforts like the Braille coin will help parents, teachers, and taxpayers in general realize that money spent on Braille literacy is money well spent.

Katherine Schneider