Future Reflections Winter 1996, Vol. 15 No. 1
Editor's note: Because I edit a monthly magazine, the Braille Monitor, all kinds of material about blindness comes across my desk. But I recently read two articles within a two-hour period that, taken together, make the case for Braille more powerfully than anything I have yet seen or written. The pieces came from totally different sources, but the authors have a number of things in common. Both are working womenþsingle, educated, committed to helping other people. Both live in the Midwest and were educated in regular schools. One, however, was taught Braille early and with wise insistence that she use it in her classes and at home. Her parents expected her to read well and did all the things that good parents do to encourage effective reading skills in their youngsters. The other was forced to use print even when it was slow and painful. The cost academically and personally was immense. Not until she lost the remainder of her sight as an adult was she able to learn the Braille that she depends upon today and that could have made all the difference to her in school.
Mary Hartle lives in Iowa, though she grew up in Minnesota.
Jana Schroeder lives in Ohio. She was a 1984 NFB scholarship winner, and she has served as President of the National Federation of the Blind of the Miami Valley. She submitted her reflections on Braille as an essay in a Braille-writing contest conducted by the NFB of Ohio. Contest entries were to be written using a slate and stylus, and the winner received a Braille 'n Speak 640, a hand-held Braille computer. Jana's six-page essay was done in flawless Braille code without a single slate error. It was the winning entry in the adult category. Viewed together, these two short autobiographies provide a powerful illustration in support of the contention that Braille is a vital tool for anyone who can't read print easily but who wishes to succeed in life. Here is Mary Hartle's article: