The Freedom Scientific Student of the Month Program features K-12 students living in the U.S. who are blind or visually impaired and use Freedom Scientific technology to achieve educational goals. Due to the busy July conference schedule, rather than featuring a student this month, we are highlighting a few of our past winners.
As a home-schooled junior from Tennessee, Campbell has employed numerous devices over the years to access classwork. Until about four years ago, she used a braille notetaker and cell phone paired with a braille display.
After receiving training, she switched to a Windows computer, JAWS, and the Focus Braille Display, which gives her access to all her schoolwork in one place. “There are just so many things I can do with JAWS and the Focus now that I never was able to do with the other devices that I used,” Campbell said.
Campbell excels in mathematics and is enthusiastic about calculus and statistics. After high school, she plans to attend college to pursue a degree in applied mathematics. She is interested in pursuing a career in either epidemiology or cyber security.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kai was unfamiliar with the technology needed for remote learning. In a few short months, this second grader from California tackled many obstacles head-on, learning how to use a Windows computer, JAWS, and a Focus Braille Display. He uses these products to complete assignments and participate online with his classmates.
Kai enjoys riding his bike and rollerblading, plus he recently learned to ride a skateboard. He employs echolocation, a technique that enables him to identify his surroundings by clicking his tongue. As sound reflects off nearby objects, Kai determines details such as his distance from them and how fast he is moving.
The technology Kai learned last year is now an integral part of his schooling. He explains: “Just like if you didn’t have the jaws that are part of your body, you wouldn’t be able to eat; if I didn’t have JAWS and the Focus 40, I wouldn’t be able to access online stuff.”
Learn more about Kai in a San Francisco Chronicle article published last September.
Mitchell, a senior from Pennsylvania, began using JAWS in the fourth grade, and says it is a huge part of his journey through school and in life. He hopes his experiences will inspire others who are blind and visually impaired, as well as parents and teachers. “JAWS is the most reliable screen reader,” Mitchell said. “It’s consistent and quick, allowing you to navigate flawlessly by character, word, or paragraph.”
Mitchell will begin college this fall and plans to work in the field of broadcast journalism. “JAWS makes the experience of writing what it would be for any sighted person … JAWS makes it a normal writing experience, which is the best thing we could ask for.”
Mitchell enjoys sports, including swimming, wrestling, and baseball. He also enjoys goalball, a team sport designed for athletes who are blind or visually impaired.
Mitchell is involved in several honor societies, and took part in Model UN, an extracurricular activity where students simulate UN communities by role playing as delegates. He also took part in the Braille Challenge, a national academic competition that inspires students to hone their braille literacy skills, which are crucial for academic and employment success.
Mitchell cites good technology and braille skills as a means of meeting people and gaining great experiences. “Blindness and disabilities in general can feel kind of isolating at times, but if you put those skills to use in ways you wouldn’t really think about, great things can come from that.”