Written by Darilyn Hackett, NELA Principal and Jesenia Hernandez, Communications Manager
At NELA, we encourage our students to be leaders who serve and love others—to speak out for what is right and against inequity.
Last month, Mrs. Seadore’s first and second graders collectively crafted a letter of advocacy in support of their classmate, Oliver, and other visually impaired children in their community. Their letter, a statement on the need for accessibility to braille books, was sent to Mid-Columbia Libraries. After discovering that the library did not have any braille or large print books for children, the students expressed that they felt this was very unfair. Mrs. Seadore asked if they would like to write to the library to see if they could help solve the problem or find resources for their friend. The letter read:
We learned about Helen Keller. She had NO braille books for college. That made us think of our friend Oliver! He is learning braille. Why do you not have braille books at the library for Oliver and other kids who need them? Please write back.
Oliver, Daniela, Matthew, Adelise, Malachi, and Mrs. Seadore
Everyone should have books!
To our excitement, Michael Huff, Collections and Services Director at Mid-Columbia Libraries, responded to the students. He sent over local and state resources from expert organizations dedicated to serving the blind and visually impaired. He also offered interlibrary loan services, a network of libraries that work together and with MCL to borrow books from one another, including braille books. Along with the list of resources for Oliver, Michael Huff wrote:
Dear Oliver, Daniela, Mathew, Adelise, Malachi and Mrs. Seadore,
Thanks for your awesome examples of love, leadership, and service. We agree! Everyone should have books. We hope the resources below are helpful to you and your friends. Washington Talking Book and Braille Library has a great collection. We’ve been very impressed that the WTBBL has over 7,000 children’s books in braille!
All the best!
When the students learned of the library’s response they were thrilled. “We did it!” one student shouted.
“It was a sweet moment to watch them realize that they have a voice they can use to stand up for others,” said Mrs. Seadore.
If you or someone you know is interested in borrowing braille books, please contact the Edith Bishel Center in Kennewick, Washington or contact Washington Talking Book and Braille Library for further information about services that are available to registered Washington State residents.