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Terri Winaught
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

July 31, 2009

Dear President Obama:

When I was six, I had a first-grade teacher named Miss Stout. Some of the kids said that I was her pet. While I don't know about that, what I do know is that my project was discovering the wonder of people, places, and things through the world of Braille books. I was an avid reader from the moment my fingers first touched a Braille dot. One of my earliest pleasures was reading to my mother. I read to her while she ironed my school clothes, and I read to her as she bathed in preparation for her night shift at the post office. When I moved from my hometown of Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, I interspersed my audiocassette letters with articles from my Braille edition of Guidepost--read with feeling--that made my chest want to burst. Since then Braille literacy has enabled me to attend college, ultimately receiving a master's degree; read Braille/print (also known as Twin Vision®) books to my two children; become employed full-time as a supervisor at a mental-health agency; and participate in Braille literacy projects, including Read Across America.

Through Braille literacy words became knowledge, and knowledge always becomes power. Through Braille literacy my ability to read to my children turned their minds into fertile soil which bore the fruits of achievement and excellence. With more focus on Braille literacy, the sad statistics of only 5 percent of the blind population being able to read Braille and 70 percent of the blind population being either unemployed or underemployed can be transformed into hopeful tomorrows and desired dreams--like those that God, Braille, and Braille's renowned inventor Louis Braille blessed me with.

Terri Winaught