My name is Jared. I was born blind with no useful vision. Today, I am employed full-time as a Senior Software Engineer – a job I couldn’t do if I hadn’t learned braille.
I am also married and a father to two young children, both of whom are sighted. Because I can read braille, I am able to read them bedtime stories and pass along to them my love for the written word.
My parents and teachers deserve much of the credit for my being braille-literate today. They insisted that I practice reading braille books, even when I would have preferred listening to audio books.
But some of the credit also goes to Seedlings Braille Books for Children, a small non-profit in Livonia, MI. My mother learned about Seedlings from the teacher of the visually impaired assigned to me when I was 7 months old. By the time I was 4, I was already starting to read braille.
As an elementary student, I really enjoyed reading Goosebumps books from Seedlings. Stories like Revenge of the Living Dummy and One Day at Horrorland kept me on the edge of my seat and motivated to keep reading. I was able to hone the braille skills I was learning in school.
My mother liked buying my books from Seedlings because they were affordable, averaging just $10 a book. Sometimes I would get free braille books from Seedlings through one of their many giveaway programs.
Seedlings also supplied braille books to the libraries of the schools I attended so I could check out books just like my sighted classmates. Without knowing how to read and write – skills impossible to learn by just listening to speech – I would have never been able to graduate from Michigan State University with a telecommunications degree.
Without the childhood literacy skills Seedlings provided to me, I would not be able to have a job in the modern workforce with the amount of reading and writing most jobs require.
Braille Books Matter for Sighted Kids, Too.
With the birth of my daughter, Harper, and my son, Logan, Seedlings has now come full circle in my life. I read to them Seedlings’ picture books, which have both print and braille in them. Since 2012, I have served as a member of Seedlings’ board of directors.
I really enjoy making a difference in the lives of children with vision loss, the way Seedlings did for me when I was a child.
About the Author
Jared is a blind software engineer, husband and father of two. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.