For Judi Cannon, 62 years old and legally blind, learning braille at Perkins gave her two precious, lifelong gifts: knowledge and independence. To further advance braille literacy, Judi has chosen to make a bequest in her will for braille education at Perkins.
Judi came to Perkins from her local town in New Hampshire. An active child, Judi fondly recalls that Perkins encouraged her participation in various athletic activities: running, roller-skating, rowing a boat across the pond, and simply running around on the playground and playing on the jungle gym. Arriving at Perkins in kindergarten, she graduated in the class of ’70.
She says, “I received a great education at Perkins, and the best thing they did for me was make me a braille reader.” That skill allowed her to keep pace with reading peers who attended public schools, aided her through college and helped make her employable. Unemployment brings challenges in the blindness community: 75 percent of blind Americans are unemployed—but of those with jobs, between 80 and 93 percent can read braille. Judi’s ability to read braille also makes it possible for her to pay her bills and handle other routine matters independently.
A self-proclaimed braille guru and Certified Braille Transcriber, Judi understands how braille literacy impacts the lives of students. Since her employment at Perkins in 1974 she has been a leading proponent of this powerful communication tool. Although her husband Larry is not blind, Judi explains that braille remains necessary for her accessibility to information and also enables her to maintain her independence.
Regarding her bequest, Judi says, “I am grateful and thankful braille has made a significant difference in what I have been able to do in my life.” She concludes, “In many ways, braille is my life.”