Blind people empowered in Lawton building class

LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- A group of blind and low vision people showed that they can do anything on Sunday in Lawton. They built wood braille blocks using heavy equipment. Braille is a tactile writing system used by people who are visually impaired.

"I did this," said Sheila Levick, National Federation of the Blind Southwestern Oklahoma Chapter President. "Even though I'm blind I built this, and this is how I built it. It's showing the community out there that just because we're blind doesn't mean we can't do it."

Sheila Levick lost her vision in her left eye from a detached retina when she was a child. Four years ago, she became completely blind.

"I felt worthless," said Sheila. "I felt like I couldn't do anything, and I was tired of feeling that way. I thought there's got to be something I can do. There's got to be more to this."

So, she decided to enroll at the Louisiana Center for the blind to learn to move independently. While at the school, she was taught how to build wooden alphabet braille blocks using drills, saws and other tools.

On Sunday, the student became the teacher.

"Some people just lose the feeling in their fingers from diabetes or whatever for some reason they just can't feel it," said Sheila. "So, they learn better off of the braille blocks than they do learning from pages of a book that has been used over and over."

Shelia's husband Travis Levick helps her teach the Braille block class. It takes only 30 minutes to build the block of wood.

Travis said normally participants catch on easily, but in some cases it can be difficult.

"The click ruler is quite a bit different," said Travis. "And you can't see it because you know you got the blinders on and stuff, but it's interesting to watch folks try and adapt to a click ruler versus a tape measurer or regular ruler."

However, with the help of his wife those who are visually impaired leave the class with a skill to last a lifetime.

"For her to be able to help other people find their way in the darkness that's truly a calling from the good lord I believe," said Travis.

"If they can do one thing that I can show here and walk out of this room and just feel better about themselves then that makes me feel like I've done something," said Sheila.

The chapter group meets every third Sunday of the month from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at 1016 Southwest D Avenue. All are welcome to join.

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