A selfie of Jolandi with her husband and two children, Daniel and Hannah. All are smiling and Hannah holds a white mobility cane high in front of her.

Braille literacy is so important to visually impaired kids and yet it can be prohibitively expensive to get books in braille. This is a real problem for my two bookworms Hannah (10) and Daniel (7). They were born with Leber’s congenital amaurosis and therefore blind from birth.

Not having the same access to books as other children is a real frustration for Hannah especially. She now has grand plans to open a Braille bookstore in the nearby mall so that kids and people like her can get access to Braille books easily.

Our little family moved from Cape Town, South Africa to Arlington, Massachusetts, in 2016. We needed to find a place where we can have better resources for our kids. We were incredibly fortunate to land in Arlington, which has fantastic schools and an amazing community, always willing to help.

Enter my fundraising effort. We are not going to start a Braille bookstore (hell no!). But I am going to get Hannah and Daniel the accessible technology they need to feel less frustrated.

A mom’s effort, powered by memes

At the end of 2020, I put together a book called 2020 Cancelled filled with news clips and memes to remember the unique experience. My husband and friends enjoyed it so much and encouraged me to share it. I thought: here is an opportunity to fundraise! Not only can I share the laughs with the community, but I can use it to help with my fundraising and bring awareness to some of the accessibility issues blind kids face.

My goal this time is to raise $5,000 so that I can buy a decent Braille notetaker ($2,500), a device that can pair with the notetaker, and a basic Braille printer ($2,000). These prices are crazy when you realize that you can get a normal printer or tablet for less than $100.

The Braille notetaker gives the kids access to the digital world. It is a refreshable Braille display that pairs with a device using Bluetooth. In this way it acts as both a keyboard and something they can use to read what is displayed on the screen. The kids can get access to thousands of books once the notetaker is paired with a digital device. They can also use it to message or email their friends.

The book has received great reviews so far, and people are really enjoying it. One customer said, “The book is really great! It’s a fantastic way to remember a not-so-great and yet memorable year.”

A white book. On the cover, the number 2020 is in black and white with the word "cancelled" in all caps stamped across in bold red.

Jolandi’s book, 2020 Cancelled

About the Author

You can follow Jolandi and her family’s journey on Instagram at @JolandiGevers. To buy a copy of the book 2020 Cancelled or to support the fundraising effort, visit TwentyTwentyCancelled.SquareSpace.com.

How has blindness impacted your world?

Add your voice to #MyBlindStory. Send your entry to blog@blindnewworld.org or use our online form.