In Wellington we have three braille learners at the intermediate and secondary school levels. The girls are each at a different stage of their schooling, and in their learning and use of braille and assistive technology. They share a common bond and enjoy each other’s company when given the opportunity.
Renee, in year 9 at Wellington Girls’ College, is a very competent, passionate braille user and is exploring new technologies. Shannon is in year 7 at Muritai School, a braille user for most of her learning and still able to read some very large print. She is very sociable and is quick to learn new technology. Nikki is in year 7 at Titahi Bay Intermediate. She is quite new to braille having lost her vision quite recently and is also learning English.
All three girls expressed an interest in meeting, despite being many kilometres apart, and so we have arranged both mentoring sessions and social get-togethers over this year whenever school timetables or school holidays allowed. These get-togethers have also included Orientation and Mobility sessions together.
Shannon and Renee have been able to share their expertise with Nikki and it has been a positive experience for all the girls. Renee was able to help Shannon set up her new Apex Braille Notetaker and then shared her skills when Shannon wanted to pair her iPod Touch with the Apex.
Shannon was very supportive to Nikki when she visited her at school and Nikki was delighted to meet another student learning braille, realising she is not alone.
Student mentoring is very empowering, raising self-esteem, encouraging friendship and the sharing of knowledge – besides, who better to do the teaching than a peer who is an efficient user of the technology?