Collaboration Provides Specialized Equipment for Blind Student

Print Story | Email Story
The Braille Sense U2 QWERTY device at right includes a keyboard to streamline braille writing and an integrated computer to translate to and from braille.

ADAMS, Mass. — The Adams Lions Club, Hoosac Valley High School Leo Club, Lions District 33-Y Emergency Sight and Hearing Fund, and BART Charter Public School have joined forces to provide a specialized device that is helping a BART 10th grader, who is blind and has significant hearing loss, learn more efficiently and productively.

The collaboration enabled the purchase of a Braille Sense U2 QWERTY device, which cost $5,800. The device allows users to read and write Braille and translate it to enable communication with sighted persons. The Perkins School for the Blind provided one of the devices for a trial, and Perkins special education teacher Amy T. O’Brien worked with the BART student during the trial.

O'Brien explained that the Braille Sense U2 QWERTY is better for blind users with hearing loss because it provides auditory and tactile feedback to users. The increased feedback helps the student identify and correct mistakes in his work. During the trial, the student said he found the menu-driven device easier to use than screen-reading software with a computer that he had been using.

The student also noted that the Braille Sense device provides downloadable books, saving paper, and allows him to access the Internet.

BART Special Education Director Susan Lubell knew that Lions Clubs help blind and hearing- impaired people, so a BART representative contacted the Adams Lions Club over the summer to see if it could help buy the Braille Sense. Local clubs assist people in need with purchasing items such as glasses and hearing aids, though the cost for the Braille Sense is beyond the means of most clubs.

Adams Lion Art McConnell brought the need to the Lions District 33-Y Emergency Sight and Hearing Fund Committee, on which he serves. The 40 Lions Clubs that make up District 33-Y, including Adams, contribute to the fund so that Lions can help in cases such as this one. The emergency fund’s contribution, along with donations from the Adams Lions and Hoosac Valley Leos, covered half the cost of the Braille Sense, defraying the impact on BART.

“All of us at BART appreciate the assistance provided by the local and district Lions and Leos in obtaining the Braille Sense device for our student,” Lubell said. “The device is making a real difference for him.”

Adams Lions President Jim Dynes said that, as service organizations, Adams Lions and Hoosac Valley Leos raise funds through events such as food sales from the Lions trailer at downtown events. Community support of these initiatives makes it possible for Lions and Leos to help the blind and hearing-impaired as part of their mission of community service.  

“We are pleased that our organizations and BART were able to get together to purchase this much-needed device that is helping a student succeed at school,” he said.


Tags: BArT,   Lions Club,   

1 Comments welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to

Solid Waste District Considers Accepting North Adams

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — Northern Berkshire Solid Waste Management has entered into conversations with North Adams about rejoining the district.
Williamstown representative Tim Kaiser told the commission Thursday that he and program director Linda Cernik have met with city officials about re-entering the district.
"At the request of the city we had a meeting ... and they are interested in rejoining the district," Kaiser said. "They expressed that they have the capability of running pretty much all of their operations now but they are weak in areas that they feel we are strong in."
Kaiser said the city is specifically interested in the coordinated events, outreach, and educational opportunities the district offers. The waste district had come up at a city Public Services Committee meeting in May about composting and education. He did not see a downside at this point and noted that if North Adams were to join, it would become the district's largest member.
View Full Story

More Adams Stories