The woman was fascinating. She has been blind all her life and has been reading Braille since the second grade. This was her first time on her own in twenty years but she was delightful, seemed completely brave, competent, bright and was absolutely terrified. She was also getting the runaround on the phone about whether someone would be picking her up at the airport when she arrived at the airport in Louisville. No one there seemed concerned that she was more than a bit handicapped either.
We spoke of the ubiquitous Braille in restrooms and elevators. I said I’d never seen them used ever in my life. She said that they are used often by many, but that the problem with them is that there is no uniformity in their placement so it’s difficult for the blind to find them to use them! Hilarious.
I spoke to her of a friend who has diabetes who is now blind, who has her doctorate so is not stupid, and is now learning braille, and her chances of becoming competent. She said her problem might be neuropathy, but she still could do it.
Her problems with work with prisoners is not with the prisoners themselves but with the prison system. Obviously, she works with long-term prisoners, those who either have long sentences or life sentences. But the problem is that she works with privately-run prison systems, and consequently their funding runs out, and her workers are moved all over the place, from Wyoming, to California, from hither to yon and are governed by different regulations and restrictions. Also, by definition, funding for her work is very limited.
Needless to say, however, what she is doing is so wonderful. She is providing something needed for those few who need to learn. Textbooks would be otherwise too costly for blind students. Plus she is helping to provide an opportunity for service for those who otherwise have no chance to pay back the society they have wronged.
Unfortunately, an aide came and took her-all-too early to another gate as her flight had been changed, but it was one of those delightful encounters that life allows only occasionally. She was so much fun. I wish I had gotten her name. That’s my only regret.