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Jennifer Shields
Midlothian, Virginia

August 27, 2009

Dear President Obama:

I am a high school sophomore from Virginia, and I use Braille every day. When I first learned Braille, I was three years old, and since then reading and writing have been two of my most profound interests. Learning Braille at such a young age helped me to appreciate the gift of literacy. With Braille I can read at the same speed as my sighted peers; I have no trouble keeping up with schoolwork. When I read something, I am able to understand and interpret it for myself, which is something that is impossible by listening to things being read.

When I finish school, I would like to pursue a career in journalism. If I did not know Braille, it would be almost impossible to work in this field. Using my skills in Braille, I can write and read back what I have written. I can then edit it accordingly. This is not something that a blind person who does not know Braille would be able to do. Braille is not slow and obselete; on the contrary, Braille has helped me to understand the world around me and to learn the necessary skills needed for success.

The literacy crisis among blind children is a serious issue. I am one of the lucky children who learned Braille when I was younger, but not everyone gets that chance. It is sad that blind children are not being given the same opportunities as sighted children, because blind people are just as capable of success as sighted people are.

Jennifer Shields