[nfbwatlk] [Living History]Keepin' Up With cindy

Mike Freeman k7uij at panix.com
Mon Nov 19 04:13:27 UTC 2012

Future Reflections Spring 1996, Vol. 15 No. 2 


by Sue Bennett

[PICTURE] Cindy Bennett 

Editor's note: It started with a phone call. Somehow Sue Bennett got the
name and number of a local member of the NFB, who in turn gave her my name
and the number of the national office of the NFB. That was over three years
ago. Sue's daughter, Cindy (yes, she's blind), was no more than two at the
time. Sue was anxious to learn all she could about blindness, blindness
skills, and services that would (or should) be available to her daughter.
Within a year, Sue (with the help of her NFB state affiliate-Alabama)
attended a national NFB seminar in Washington, D.C.

Her excitement and enthusiasm for all that she was learning from the NFB
about blindness encouraged her to keep her expectations high for her
daughter. It also prompted her to join her local affiliate of the NFB. In
the short time that she was a member she spearheaded a local effort to raise
funds and set up a "Cane Bank" from which parents could get free long white
canes for their blind children. But no sooner than she had this up and
running, Sue and her family moved out of state to North Carolina.

Busy as she has been in adjusting to a new home in a new state, Sue was so
excited about Cindy's achievement of a very important milestone that she
sent me the following letter and article, "Keepin' Up with Cindy."

At the end of the letter you will notice that Sue says there are no NFB
members in her area. That's not quite accurate, Sue-there's you and your
family! Considering Sue's energy and the commitment the NFB of North
Carolina has to blind children and their parents, I wouldn't be surprised at
all if in a year or two I get an article from Wayne Shevlin, President of
the NFB of North Carolina, entitled "Keepin' Up With Sue."

January 31, 1996 
Dear Barbara, 
It has been a while since I talked to you. We moved from Alabama last June.
I am glad for the move now, although I was not so happy a year ago. The
biggest reason is the great program here. Mrs. Shorkey has been teaching the
blind for 15 years, and her experience and excitement is just what Cindy

As much as I loved [our local] Montessori Preschool, there was not a strong
effort to begin Braille instruction. Funds were also limited. The resources
here in Buncombe County are tremendous. They have the ability to produce
Braille at the T.C. Roberson High School. I'm volunteering in this area. I
am finding out that there is always the need for someone to Braille books,
tests, etc.

There is another group, Blue Ridge Braillers, who are senior citizens who
learned Braille and they volunteer hundreds of hours a year to produce
Braille. I do have a goal of becoming a certified transcriber, even if it
takes me two years (I just started the Library of Congress course).

I am in the early stages of beginning a "Braille Club" with the five Braille
readers (ages 6-16) in this area. It will be informal. We plan to meet
weekly at the library during the summer to discuss the books they are
reading. It will give the younger ones a chance to see the older ones
reading Braille. Cindy was so excited when she met the 9th grader (and
fascinated by her Braille n' Speak). She has also met a 6th grader. I want
to keep the momentum going because it is quite a lot of work to keep at
grade level. I'll send a report later on the Braille Club with more details.

All in all, I wrote the enclosed article to encourage other parents. I can't
tell you how much the parents magazine [Future Reflections] means to me.

Sincerely, Sue Bennett

P.S. I have not found any NFB members here yet.


It has been five years since we were told that our daughter was blind. I was
determined to learn Braille. I couldn't imagine being asked, "What is this
word?" and having to say to my child, "I don't know." So I ordered the
course Just Enough to Know Better and plunged in. I hung up the alphabet
card over my kitchen sink. I finished the first lesson. Only a short time
later I felt discouraged. It seemed like I couldn't remember anything. At
the ripe old age of 33, I thought my memory was shot. Cindy was two years
old then, and there seemed to be so many other things about her development
which occupied my time. Learning Braille seemed impossible. I was so

Fortunately, I expressed my frustrations to her preschool teacher, Jayne
McDaniel, at the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind. She wisely told me,
"You have some time now, just wait and see how much you'll learn along with
Cindy." This is exactly what has happened since September of '95. Cindy
began kindergarten at Estes Elementary in Buncombe County School District,
Asheville, North Carolina. Under the fantastic instruction of the Braille
teacher, Mrs. Carolyn Shorkey, we have both been extremely busy! They are
using Patterns curriculum and modifying it somewhat to fit into the whole
language approach. I can tell you that we work hard together. Cindy began
reading words by the second month of kindergarten. I wish you could have
seen the huge smiles on both our faces this January after spending 45
minutes reading Green Eggs and Ham. What fun!

One night I was sitting next to Cindy on the sofa, and I thought of
practicing the Braille alphabet on her leg using my fingertips. Letter by
letter I gently pressed the Braille shape onto her leg. Cindy loves this
game. It was especially exciting for me, that night, because I realized that
I knew them all by heart! All this time I had kept the "cheat sheet" close
at hand for reference, but now I didn't need it anymore. At least, not for
letters and numbers. (Will I ever learn all those contractions and rules?)
Later I practiced over and over on the Perkins Brailler, so proud that my
memory was still in good working order!

Cindy has been very bold about telling me what I don't know. Recently, she
corrected me that an f was from. I thanked her, of course. In early October
she stated in an exaggerated tone to Mrs. Shorkey, "My mother doesn't even
know Braille!" She doesn't say that anymore. She assures me, "I'll keep
teaching you some more, Mom." And she has been pleasantly surprised to find
out that I know a little more Braille than she does at this point and can
actually teach her a thing or two! She's bound to catch up, however, and
zoom ahead. I'll be right on her heels!


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