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Lone student’s appeal for others to join Braille class

By Staf Newsletter  |  Posted: February 08, 2013

ON THEIR OWN ... Pete White and Howard Wilcock

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A BLIND man whose sight deteriorated after an operation on a brain tumour wants to boost numbers at a Braille class where he is now the only pupil.

After being diagnosed in 1990, complications after removing the tumour eventually saw Howard Wilcock registered blind in 2005.

The 34-year-old decided to take up Braille at Stafford Action for Blind Centre, North Walls, before he completely lost his sight.

However, Mr Wilcock, from Stafford, and his carer are now the only pupils attending tutor Pete White’s Stafford class.

Mr Wilcock said: “I’ve felt a real improvement in my quality of life since starting to learn Braille.

“It’s very challenging but has given me more independence and has proved useful in so many ways.

“I hope I never completely lose my sight but you never know what the future holds so it’s really important that I learn now as a contingency plan.

“We really need help to keep these classes going with more members. It would also be nice to have the opportunity to socialise with others in the class, particularly as they can relate to my experiences.” Mr Wilcock told the Newsletter how he is often “stigmatised’ for his condition.

He said: “There are lots of very kind people who help me but often people in the street see the white stick and can be very hurtful.

Because there isn’t much obvious physical evidence of my condition, some people even question whether it’s genuine, which is deeply upsetting.” Mr White, who also teaches a class at Cannock Library, said several elderly Stafford pupils had died or struggled to attend due to their deteriorating physical condition.

He said: “At one time the Cannock group was struggling for members and the Stafford classes were thriving, but now it’s the other way round.

“Braille gives registered blind people real independence and allows them to do things that others may take for granted.

“Simple things like being able to label food and other products are very useful. That allows blind people to accomplish simple things like being able to tell the difference between their shampoo and conditioner and label CDs.

“If they become fluent they can do a lot more and access a lot more information everywhere and can send Braille letters to people. It’s also very useful for keeping your brain active.” Anyone interested in attending the courses is asked to contact Mr White on 07580 191773.

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