In 2009, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille who developed the special code that has become a lifeline for so many, we had the great honor to begin working with a third grader named Carlos Garcia. Our task was to make sure that he had his math assessments in braille so he could participate alongside his sighted peers.
When Carlos was in fourth grade, nine ABLE volunteers and one staff member spent over 563 hours preparing daily assignments, a spelling book and a dictionary so that he could participate on equal terms with his classmates during the 2009-2010 school year. We continued to follow Carlos through the years, preparing many braille assignments and some audio assignments as well. In fifth grade, Carlos became a part of the bilingual program at Allen-Field School and we were tasked with finding audio readers who could record two books in Spanish for this very bright, deserving young man. Another exciting project came to us when Carlos entered the Project Lead the Way program in middle school. The volunteer and tactile team of Audrey Hemmer and John Kaczmarowski spent hundreds of hours creating tactile drawings with braille text so that Carlos could be a part of this engineering class. Then, when Carlos entered high school, so did our volunteer staff team, taking on German, chemistry, biology and higher math assignments.
At this point, not only was Carlos receiving materials from ABLE but he also became a part of our volunteer team, bursting, binding, proofreading, and consulting on the tactile drawings he would be using in class! In the spring of 2018, Carlos graduated as an honors student in the International Baccalaureate program at Rufus King High School.
Carlos has been admitted to the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League school which has an acceptance rate of less than 10%. We are all so very proud of this young man.
“I can personally say that ABLE has helped not only me, but all of the students in MPS (Milwaukee Public Schools) with braille needs. Our braille is always delivered in a timely fashion, so that we can all do our work in class along with the other students. We are not left behind—because we have our braille.” –Carlos Garcia
“I know just how important our work is to students such as Carlos. More than fifty years ago I was that student who needed brailled assignments. ABLE gave me the tools I needed to succeed academically in a sighted world, eventually leading me to run the very organization that served my educational needs for so many years.” –Cheryl Orgas