I wish, that the whole world could have been there today when I gave my speech at Toastmasters because I was just so brilliant! (Toastmasters in a public speaking club not a place where you get to eat toast, much to my dismay).
Ok, hold on, before you think I'm the most self-centered person on the planet, I'm kidding about the brilliance part. But wishing the whole world was there, that part I'm not kidding about. Why?
Because it was terrible!
I bet you'll all just jumping out of your seats because your so disappointed you didn't get to come now!
Recently we (we meaning, me and my totally awesome blogger commenters) have been talking about a recent article in the New York Times that talks about learning Braille v. Learning Technology, which has caused a little debate in the blindness field. I have held my breath, resisted comment, kept to myself about how I personally felt about the article but today, my side of the issue became crystal clear...
I came to toastmasters today to give my second speech. I volunteered about a week ago to do so but due to life's tough circumstances I had to put my family first and postpone preparing my speech. So today came, and I went into the speech not feeling nearly prepared enough. We've all been there right? We all have things come up in life and other things get put on the back burner and we just have to push through it.
I had written the speech exactly how I wanted to say it but the practice part didn't happen so I went into it with basically what I had written.
I originally printed the speech out in Braille, but upon practicing, couldn't read it fast enough, so I went into the meeting with my super de-duper large print that looked like a 200 page novel to the onlookers (you know about 5 words per page). And I read my speech...
Nose pressed to the page, eyes squinted, no eye contact, no confidence, no nice posture, no poise!
Cause guess what? 37 inch font doesn't really work for me anymore! I 'face planted' my way through the speech, sat down and felt worse than I've felt in a very long time.
I feel discouraged, disappointed, sad...it took everything in me to not cry when I sat down, it makes me wanna cry now!
I realized today, unfortunately in front of a group of people's who's opinions matter greatly to me, that I can't read!
I learned Braille 23 years into my life, WAY, WAY, WAY too late! And quite frankly I don't practice it enough because I'm way too relient on print, print that does no good to me anymore!
Today, it was verified to the me that there is NO WAY technology can replace nor replicate my ability to read. Braille is what I needed today and there isn't a piece of technology on the planet that could have saved me!
There is nothing, nothing, nothing that can ever replace a person's ability to read and there is not a single reason anyone could ever use to convince me that it is alright for a child to not learn to read!
Failure. Something today failed. The education system failed me when they didn't teach me Braille and I failed myself for not practicing my Braille more often. Wherever it came from something HUGE failed me today.
It took me a very long time to learn lift my head up and become a confident, independent blind woman and I will NEVER put my head down like I did today again.
Braille is the answer. There are no substitutes.