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2018 Student of the Year Award Winner: Karen Thomas

My name is Karen Thomas, and I'm from Austin, Texas. Being a teenager and facing complete blindness, that meant that I needed to learn how to cope. And that was braille and mobility training and that's really when I reached out to Hadley for some support for learning that. And I'm still working on that because I read with my left hand. They want you to read with your right hand. I'm now, since I've done the UEB courses recently, in the last couple years, I've learned to incorporate the right hand more. And so, it's helpful to me. It's very easy to take courses with Hadley, to learn what you need or want to learn because you can study at your own pace. You have wonderful instructors that provide one on one attention to help you along when you get stuck, to offer encouragement.

There's also the support you get from the office hours. Hadley programs can change a life. They changed my life. If I hadn't learned braille to the extent that I was able to do, through Hadley, I wouldn't have been able to do some of the things that I've been able to do because I needed equipment. And when I got my first job, they sent me immediately for a technology evaluation. But when they saw that I had sufficient braille skills, they were adamant that I needed to have braille technology. And I was able to get a braille display, a braille embosser, and a braille note taker. And I can't tell you how invaluable that was for me.

And it wouldn't have happened if I hadn't had the extra support in braille from Hadley. But I've been able to overcome quite a lot and Hadley has been a big part of that. I've been able to learn how to explain things in a non-visual way, which Hadley has to do. Hadley instructors have to explain things so that you can do them without vision at a distance. And so, I think Hadley offers you lots of opportunities to help other people get started on something that they're trying to do.

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