Congratulations to Brandon Hulcoop in Year 8 from The Toynbee School in Chandler’s Ford.
Brandon has won a prestigious writing competition in the International Onkyo Braille Contest.
The competition was run by European Blind Union. From 62 entries in 21 countries, 12-year-old Brandon Hulcoop came first in the Junior section.
Brandon’s creative piece is entitled “Braille is fascinating!”. He uses each letter of the word ‘Fascinating’ to reveal the magical world of Braille. The entry has been described by the European Blind Union as “well written, to the point, personal, interesting and smartly done.”
With kind permission from Brandon’s family, we are sharing Brandon’s winning article “Braille is fascinating!” and his photos to share with readers of Chandler’s Ford Today.
Braille is Fascinating! By Brandon Hulcoop, Winner in Onkyo World Braille Essay Contest
F is for First and Foremost
First and foremost, for me, Braille is the way forward, feeling my way through the subjects at school and letting me write to my family and keeping me from feeling blind. Braille is the way I explore the world that my teachers open up to me. For sighted people, Braille isn’t first and foremost – it just looks and feels like dots – but when you’ve learnt it, you realise that Braille is fundamental to my life.
A is for Always
Always regular, always predictable – so can be learnt by anyone who has the ambition to learn Braille. At first, there’s a lot to remember, or is there? Braille is always consistent and will always be the way I can access the world. Although, I know I need to learn UEB – but all the people I speak to think that this won’t take me long and then I’ll soon be able to say that Braille is always consistently there for me.
S is for Six Dots
Six dots make up a Braille cell. I’ve been learning about the six dots from the age of 2. Without them, my life wouldn’t have books, work to give to my teachers, letters to my family, letters from my friends and I wouldn’t now be able to surf the internet. Those six dots have changed and shaped my world.
C is for a Code
A code that connects me to my parents, family, friends, teachers and the rest of the world. This code can be cracked by anyone – and because of the code I’ve learnt to communicate with people all over the world. This code, that is second nature to me now, allows me to crack other codes – the world wide web for instance. I love searching for stories to read that I can then convert into my code – Braille!
I is for Inclusion
I hear my parents, teachers and new school talk about inclusion. I don’t think I really get it. But, I know that without Braille, I wouldn’t be able to be in the classroom with my friends. I’d be isolated in my learning and then I’d be isolated playing. I feel more included in my wider family – I can text my GG (Great Grandad) on my phone through my BrailleNote which translates my code into the print code and he is learning to text back to me in my format! I can read instructions for games and clubs – so I can be included there too through Braille.
N is for not hard to learn
I also know that it’s not easy for some people to learn Braille. But, my advice to them is keep going. It’s fascinating – and it offers you a world beyond the room you sit in or the things that are given to you. It allows you to be independent and one day I hope that because I can read Braille that maybe I’ll be able to teach other people about it too.
A is for a serious visual impairment
I have a visual impairment called septo optic dysplasia and I know that people think that it’s serious. I can see some things – like shapes and colours – but this is only on a good day. Thank goodness for Braille – I don’t need to have a good day in order to read Braille, it’s just there for me and it doesn’t matter that I can’t see.
T is for touching Braille
You can touch Braille on so many different surfaces. Normally I read Braille on my BrailleNote, on paper, on walls, in lifts, on medicines.
I is for an Inventor
The inventor of Braille, of course, is Louis Braille – and I think he is IMMENSE! His code translates into all the languages of the earth (I think!) and that means I can talk to people with visual impairment, like me, wherever they are! I wonder if he knew how he’d change the world for people like me? Immense, like I said.
N is for No limits
There are no limits to what you can do with Braille. I wonder how many people realise that you can draw pictures with the Braille dots? I love giving my Mum a card that I’ve drawn (and a shape that she’ll recognise as a picture) and with a message written in by me in Braille. No limits to what I can do – and I really believe that. Mum never thought I’d be able to send her a text – but there really are no limits to how I can send Braille messages to my Mum. I think I will one day choose a job that I love because I can do the same as any print user. I won’t have to do a job that sighted people used to think blind people had to do.
G is for Go On, Give Braille a Go!
Go on, give Braille a go – if you take a little while, never mind, keep going. You just don’t know what it means to a person who is blind to read a letter or a card that’s been written in the right code. It means so much more to me to read a letter in Braille. Go on, make my day . . . .
I hope that you’ve understood now why I find Braille fascinating. I hope you’ve found my essay fascinating too?