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2016 Braille Student of the Year Award Winner Susan Brasel:

In 2012, I was substitute teaching one day, and at noontime I remember being able to read. By the end of the school day, I had a student ask a question and I told him to bring his paper to me. And I could not see words. I could not see letters.

I ended up going and getting a thorough vision exam. Found out it was a detached retina. I've had three surgeries. I don't want any more surgeries. The first three were supposed to be the magic answer. For me, I didn't get the magic answer. I still have some sight, but it's not what it had been before I lost my vision.

I have always loved books. Braille has helped me learn to know that I can always have a book in my hand. I like the audio books, but I like the book in my hand. One of my favorite classes is Braille Drawing. It's where you use your braille slate and stylus, or if you have a brailler, either way you can draw the picture. It doesn't have anything to do with reading. You feel the bumps that make up the picture. That I really like.

It's a special honor to be the braille student of the year, because just getting through the braille classes themselves was challenging. And now that I have completed the braille courses, it's putting it into practice. You know, I've gotten the basics. So now I'm ready to go beyond. I challenged myself next year when we have Spring Into Braille, my goal is to read much faster, much smoother, and I'm ready to set that as my goal and accomplish it.

Hadley's a good investment because of the gratitude that people feel because of the thankfulness that we have that classes are free, and that you're investing in the person who will better themselves. You can't do any better than investing in yourself for happiness, joy, gratitude, thankfulness.

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