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Inside NBP

My Life as a Braille Reader.

Posted by Jack McPadden on 12/19/2019



My name is Jack McPadden. I am 19 years old and currently attend Clark University in Massachusetts. I am pursuing a major in psychology with a minor in community, youth, and education studies. I cannot imagine achieving academic success without having access to braille.

When I was two years old, my mother and my Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) acquainted me with braille by placing embossed braille in front of me. By age three, I learned how to read and write short words in braille. One of the first words that I ever wrote on the braille writer was "cab." Slowly, as my TVI instructed me as to which dots to press, I understood how to produce for myself the very same braille that I had learned to read. To this day, my family still keeps and treasures the half sheet of braille paper with that one word, "cab," which I brailled sixteen years ago.

Jack at a braille embosser

Throughout preschool and kindergarten, my braille instruction progressed to encompass reading and writing my name and larger words. Just as children with sight began to open and read aloud their first print books, I too got to select a braille children's book from NBP’s catalogue and, with care, trail my fingers across the pages. "I can do it," I would read aloud to my mother from an uplifting, beginners children's book. "You can do it too," I would continue. I particularly enjoyed reading aloud the books from National Braille Press's Children's Braille Book Club, among them Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss; the Froggy series, including Froggy Goes to Bed and Froggy Eats Out; Noodle, a story about a long dachshund; and books from the Curious George series.

A copy of the original Curious George book with a plastic sheet of braille laid over its printed counterpart.

Braille afforded me the same access to literature and opportunities for success as my peers. Your donations to NBP have helped shape my education and love of reading; thank you!

In the classroom, textbooks produced by National Braille Press ensured that I had the same materials as my peers and could engage in the day’s lessons independently. That independence carried on outside the classroom, where braille has proved integral in my enjoyment of activities such as reading news articles, accessing social media applications, and volunteering to organize fundraisers for dog rescue organizations.


Jack sits in the middle of a group of rescue dogs


Just as it has been in the past, braille will undoubtedly prove essential to me in the future. Currently, National Braille Press is converting into braille a statistics textbook that I will require in the fall. Without this textbook, I could not succeed in this course, which is required for my major in psychology, and thus my future career. I can honestly attest that your generosity helps our future by providing access to the printed word. Thank you for making this equality possible for me and thousands of children, students, and adults who are blind. I hope you can continue to help pave the path for literacy by donating online.

Jack and his braille display at the National Braille Press front desk

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