Moving America Forward

This Man Was Born Blind, But That Doesn’t Stop Him From Teaching Children to Read

August 11, 2014
This Man Was Born Blind, But That Doesn’t Stop Him From Teaching Children to Read
Jeff Balek, left, uses braille to teach children how to read. Balek was born blind but can help sighted children sound out words and read passages. Screengrab via YouTube
Just because Jeff Balek can't see the words, doesn't mean that he can't teach them.

In Charlotte, NC, four out of 10 students aren’t reading at grade level. This setback has contributed to a poor high school exit rate: One third of students won’t graduate on time, or at all.

In an effort to improve literacy rates, the local YMCAs have established the Y Readers Program to help the city’s youngest readers overcome their learning obstacles and improve their self-confidence. The program works because of its team of dedicated volunteer tutors, including one in particular: Jeff Balek, a man who also has a major obstacle. He can’t see.

MORE: The Blind Teacher Who Has Vision Like No Other

As Good News Networkreports, even though Balek has been blind since birth, that doesn’t stop him from teaching his second and third graders how to read.

“When the kids find out I’m blind, they ask me all kinds of questions,” he says in the inspiring video below. “I think they get a good kick out of it.”

How does he do it?

As his students read the words printed on the page, Balek follows along in Braille. When his students stumble on a word, he is able to help them figure out the pronunciation.

“I love seeing the kids progress,” Balek says.

And without a hint of irony, he adds, “I get inspired because I see them overcoming their obstacles.”


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