Two women are connecting the Braille dots for visually impaired students, providing an invaluable service to them.
For decades, braillists Bonita Ferracane and Susan Mertz have been connecting six dots. They arrange them to form letters, punctuation marks, numbers, and musical notes, transcribing printed textbooks and other materials for the benefit of visually impaired students at Akron Public Schools.
“We’re helping students get the same benefits as their sighted classmates,” said Mertz, a braillist for 50 years who taught special education for 25 years. “It feels good to know that we have made sure the students who read braille have the same materials at the same time that the sighted children have them. Listening to a book being read to you is not the same as reading it for yourself. It gives students a sense of confidence to be able to do it for themselves.”
Mertz works part time and Ferracane works full time transcribing textbooks into braille for the following school year. They also are available during the school year to braille any printed materials the students need.
“These two women are an invaluable resource to our kids and our families. They make sure our students are prepared for instruction,” said special education coordinator Paul Rusinko. “They make my job easier because they are so dedicated to the students they serve. They are more than transcribers. They are advocates for the students.”