The contents of this column reflect the letters we had received by the time we went to press, June 5, 2009. Letters are limited to 300 words or fewer. All submissions must include the author's name and location. Opinions expressed are those of the authors.

Tribute to Louis Braille

Dearest Mr. Braille,

In observance of your 200th anniversary I'm compelled to express just what your gift and the legacy that goes with it has meant to me.

I was enrolled in the Western Pennsylvania School for the Blind in the mid-1950s. Throughout our grade school years, we were taught to read and write braille just as sighted children do with print in their schools. It was many years later when I realized the true essence of this gift. I'm now 60 years old, and throughout my life I have used braille to read books and magazines, keep notes and records of my daily activities and countless other applications too numerous to mention here.

It's by no means easy being a blind person in a sighted world! Thank God for people such as you who've made it possible for us to have some measure of quality in our lives. Without braille I wouldn't be able to write down a phone number or keep track of my recording sessions in the home studio that I operate.

I'm really at a loss for words that would convey my true appreciation for the wonderful system you developed and want you to know that although there are some blind individuals who shy away from braille, most of us would be dead in the water without it. As the old saying goes, "It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness." Truly, Mr. Braille, you have illuminated at least a portion of the darkness we're forced to live in and made it possible for we the blind community to live and function as normal human beings.

Thank you, Mr. Braille, and may your soul rest in peace forever.

-- Robert D. Reed Jr., Lemont Furnace, Pa.

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