Fourth Grader with Vision Impairment Educates Classmates on Braille

Fourth Grader with Vision Impairment Educates Classmates on Braille

WEST GROVE, PA — On September 24, in front of an audience of her peers, nine-year-old Corrine Perkins described her life as a visually impaired person and demonstrated how she uses Braille, a system of touch reading and writing that uses raised dots to represent the letters of the alphabet.

Perkins, a fourth-grade student at Avon Grove Intermediate School (AGIS), has had limited vision since birth. At seven months old, she was diagnosed with chronic uveitis, a form of eye inflammation that affects the middle layer of tissue in the eyewall (uvea). Since her diagnosis, she has had over 15 eye surgeries, including two partial and two full cornea transplants in each eye. While the transplants are helping with her vision, the healing process is slow and she needs to take prescription eye drops every morning and evening to help her eyes recover.

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Corinne Perkins
Corinne Perkins demonstrating the Perkins Brailler to her peers.

Perkins can see shapes and colors but cannot see well enough to read. Perkins began learning braille in second grade and, in less than two years, she has learned to read fluently using this touch reading system. In order to write, Perkins uses a special typewriter known as the Perkins Brailler. Similar to a traditional typewriter, the Perkins Brailler has keys that correspond to the braille codes which represent letters. The paper is embossed with raised dot lettering, making it possible for her to type notes in braille.

Penn London Elementary School
Corinne (center) with her older sister, who is in sixth grade at AGIS, and their parents, Lynne and Chris Perkins. Corinne also has a younger sister in first grade at Penn London Elementary School (not shown).

For her presentation, Perkins was joined by her braille teacher, Kory Krecker and her mobility teacher, Jennifer Bennethum, who helped her facilitate a question and answer session with her classmates. Perkins told her fellow fourth-grade students about her vision impairment and described how she functions with limited vision. She explained that her glasses are fake but she wears them to protect her eyes. She demonstrated how she uses a cane, not a stick, to help her navigate her surroundings.

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Students were encouraged to ask questions and Perkins was quite comfortable and confident answering them. According to her mother, Lynne Perkins, “When Corinne presents to her peers each year, it empowers her.” Perkins plans to continue educating not only her peers but also the greater community about braille.

Source: Avon Grove School District
Featured Image: Braille teacher Kory Krecker, student Corinne Perkins and mobility teacher Jenn Bennethum.

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