Do you remember learning how to read, and how difficult you thought it was? Imagine if you couldn’t see those letters, and instead hade to read a code known as braille. Braille is a series of raised dots, that people who are blind or have very poor eye sight read with their fingers. Debra LaPlante of the Presque Isle Career Center, teaches visually impaired children in Aroostook County how to read.
“Not only do our kids have to learn how to spell each word one by one with each letter like other kids, they also have to learn how to spell these words in a contractive braille, which is kind of like a short hand form. So when they have a spelling test, they have to spell the words two different ways. It’s just a lot of extra work,” says LaPlante.
LaPlante says there are many types of braille code including braille for math, computer and music. She works with children starting at infancy until age 20.
“You have to take into consideration that our kids don’t see all the letters and all the signs, and all the words that are around everybody else everyday. So you have to bring everything to them,” says LaPlante.
LaPlante is the only teacher for the blind and visually impaired here in the county, with only 15 others throughout the state.
“Well, I hate to say it, but resources are pretty limited up here, and even throughout the state for the most part. It can be very difficult to find a job,” says LaPlante.
LaPlante says transportation is a big issue. Also, places must be up to code with braille and anything else they may need to allow them to do the job which can become costly for the business.
“Blind people are able to do just about any type of job, but again, depending on what is in the area and what is being offered. It’s still limited,” says LaPlante.
But for now, what’s being offered, LaPlante says, isn’t enough. Something she hopes will someday change.