- Randy “RJ” Sampson, a blind student of Conifer High School in Colorado, has missed out on the high school tradition of reading through yearbooks.
- As a freshman, he casually requested for a Braille yearbook, but he had no idea that the yearbook committee would actually do it.
- Just in time for his graduation, the yearbook committee was able to present him with a yearbook that not only contained braille pages, but also audio recordings and videos that play via smartphone.
Randy “RJ” Sampson, a blind student of Conifer High School in Colorado, has sadly missed out on the high school tradition of reading through yearbooks.
Since his freshman year, RJ has expressed his wish for a version he could read. He did not know if such a version was the yearbook staff had the time or the ability to create such a book. But it wouldn’t hurt to ask, so he casually asked his instructor, Leslie Thompson, “Are you going to make me a braille yearbook?”
Leslie was unsure how to answer. She genuinely loved the idea, but she had no idea how to make it happen. Just the usual yearbooks already take a lot of work to put together – making one in Braille would be more difficult. Nevertheless, she never forgot RJ’s wish.
After a few years, she was finally able to make RJ’s wish come true, thanks to the students’ help.
Leslie and the yearbook committee started their plan in April 2018 so they could create a Braille version in time for graduation. It took them more than 1,500 hours to finish the Class of 2019 yearbook, and the theme could not be more fitting: “More Than Meets The Eye.”
Just before graduation, the school held a special assembly to reveal the Braille yearbook. The editor-in-chief of the yearbook, Laurel Ainsworth, presented the thoughtful surprise.
RJ was stunned – he had no idea that Leslie remembered his request from years ago, and that they would actually do it! His huge smile showed just how happy he felt.
“It really means a lot to me. The community here is really so loving,” RJ said.
The yearbook staff went above and beyond with RJ’s gift. The yearbook not only contains braille pages, it also plays out audio recordings and videos when a smartphone is held over certain photos.
Laurel explained that they wanted to make the yearbook “completely accessible for him so he can enjoy it just as much as the rest of the students.”
Thanks to his thoughtful classmates, RJ now has a treasured keepsake that he’s actually able to read and enjoy!
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