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The Braille Highway

For your reading convenients below you will find all the Braille Highway published in 2018

January 2018

Happy new year and may 2018 be filled with happiness, health, and prosperity. This month is National Braille Literacy Awareness Month, as well as the birthdate of Louis Braille (Jan. 4). So read a book in braille, write a letter in braille, or send an A B C braille card to someone interested in learning braille.

As The Blind Perspective and the segment, The Braille Highway enters its 4th year of publication, I am going to tell you all about an amazing young woman.
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Bree Brown was born and raised in West Virginia. She is totally blind and attended public school for all her k to 12 education. Bree learned braille at the age of 3 using her trusted friend, the Perkins braille writer. At the age of 5, she learned the slate and stylus. In middle school, Bree began using her PacMate which allowed her to gain even more independents. Therefore, she only needed her vision teacher to transcribe a minimal amount of her work prior to submitting it to the teacher for grading.

Bree used braille throughout her years in the public school system. She not only used braille for education, but also for her love of music. Bree took part in any school activity that allowed her to play the trumpet, and once again, used braille music to participate.

Ms. Brown attended Texas State University where she earned a Bachelorís in General Studies; specializing in Family and Child Development, Psychology, and Special Education. In her post-secondary education, while still using her braille writer and the slate and stylus, she began using a Braille note Apex and has not looked back since. Bree won a few scholarships while attending college, including the prestigious NFB (National Federation of the Blind) Kenneth Jernigan Scholarship in 2015.

In January 2017 Bree was working at the Louisiana Centre for the blind on a contractual basis. She also was involved with the BELL (Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning) Academy along with many other programs. As of September 2017, Bree was hired as a braille instructor for the Louisiana Center for the Blind. She received her National Certification in Unified English Braille through the National Blindness Professional Certification Board.

As a braille instructor, she makes notes and reminders in braille. She feels strongly that braille should be taught to all young blind students. It teaches them how to spell correctly, use proper punctuation, and form complete sentences.

As a youngster, Bree did not think she could become a teacher. With encouragement and guidance from her family, friends, and mentors, she persevered and made her dreams a reality. While in college, Bree continued her love for music and joined an acapella singing group, which she really enjoys. Using braille, Bree can write down the lyrics along with reminders where to breathe, and other singing pointers.

Bree also directed the Christmas play at the Louisiana Centre for the Blind this last Christmas. While conducting my interview with Bree, she mentioned how Jerry Whittle her former braille instructor, had suddenly passed away in November. He was truly a big influence and guiding light for Bree, both as a student and as an instructor. He will be dearly missed by both Bree and the rest of the people at the Louisiana Centre for the Blind.

With all the above achievements, one would think that she is in her early to mid-thirties, but at the writing of this article, Ms. Brown has not even reached a quarter of a century yet. Braille has been a significant tool in Ms. Brownís toolbox. As already mentioned, the braille writer, the slate and stylus, and electronic braille through her Braille note Apex, all have played a big part of her personal and professional lives.

While attending Texas State University, Bree had a housemate, Jessica, who she became good friends with. Jessica was interested in learning about braille and other things associated with blindness. Jessica was an art major studying ceramics and many other things including paper fibers. She learned braille and incorporated it into one of her art exhibits at school. Jessica was trying to demonstrate that blind people are equal members of society. After convincing Bree to attend, but not telling her the theme of her exhibit, Bree finally made her way there, Bree was pleasantly surprised and equally impressed with her friendís art work.

Bree participates in her church service by receiving the scriptures in braille through the Xavier Society. Bree enjoys reading, and playing scrabble, word and card games.

I thought long and hard on what I should do for my first article of the year. Since many of us need a little inspiration to go for our goals, I decided to give you a little insight on a young woman who has done so much and still has a lifetime to do many more things! I want to thank Pamela Allen, the executive director of the Louisiana Centre for the Blind for introducing me to Ms. Brown. It was an absolute pleasure for me to interview you Bree, and thank you so much for agreeing to participate.

Why complicate life with gadgets when you can complement it with braille. Braille readers do it with feeling! Until February when we meet again, remember to stay on the dotted line of life!

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