A Touching Project – Braille Books & Senior Point
Last April Olivia Cordeiro began to consider what she could do for her Senior Four Point Project. The pandemic and lock-down were just starting. Classes were remote. Traveling abroad and internships seemed unlikely, so she turned her focus to what resources she did have, locally in Bethel.
Olivia’s stepmother, Jeanne, is a special education teacher at Telstar High School who has extensive experience working with students who are visually impaired. Olivia knew she wanted to learn Braille, so the two brainstormed ideas for a final project that would also allow her to give back to the local community.
“My stepmom has taught me everything she knows about the blind community, which really sparked an interest. It’s a community that really needs more awareness.”
OLIVIA CORDEIRO ’21
Olivia noticed while doing her research that Braille children’s books are not readily available, and even when they are, they are extremely expensive, costing two to three times that of print books. She decided she would convert books she purchased herself into Braille, and then donate them to the Bethel Library. She wanted the books to be accessible to anyone, so first she cross-referenced their collection to make sure they didn’t already have the titles she had picked out.
Bethel Library Director Michelle Conroy welcomed Olivia’s donation with open arms.
“The Bethel Library is thrilled to receive a collection of easy readers and picture books with Braille markings throughout,” says Conroy. “[We are] hoping ALL young readers will check them out and enjoy them. This is the library’s first collection of Braille books, and we hope to purchase more in the future.”
Cordeiro says she learned a lot more than she thought she would throughout the process. Aside from essentially learning a new language, she also discovered how much need there is.
“The biggest takeaway for me was that I realized just how valuable and scarce resources for the blind are,” says Cordeiro. “People with full vision often take things like books and computers for granted. I am so excited that I was able to contribute to the blind community and possibly put a smile on someone’s face.”