I have been blind since birth. But that doesn’t mean that I’m clumsy or lack skills. I always keep to my commitments, and I can do anything from fixing a light bulb to putting together an audio montage.”
Tofiq Balayev, the deputy director of the Library for the Blind, spends much of his time at the institution supervising the printing of new books. He even puts together books based off audio books created by volunteers. The blind come to the library to read and listen to audio CDs. The majority of what’s available is of course, printed in braille: a raised, dot alphabet created in 1821 by Louis Braille for blind people to read and write.
For some people, braille is rather difficult and hard to master. But in Azerbaijan, there are special schools where braille is taught. There, they teach children to read by gradually sensitizing them to minute pattern changes demonstrated at first by larger objects such as peas and wheat kernels. Later, as the children become more proficient in recognizing the patterns in the dots, they move towards mastering braille itself.
“A person might not be able to see, but that doesn’t mean he is without skills or useless. It’s about putting people on the right track – not just hoping that they do well. Putting people on the right track is easy. It’s just a matter of willpower and moving forward.”