LISE-MARI van Wyk receives the first National Senior Certificate in Braille from her principal, Michael Bredenkamp.
When Lise-Mari van Wyk received her matric certificate, her father had to read it to her, as she is blind.

But now she has been afforded the chance to read it on her own, as she has been awarded the first National Senior Certificate written in Braille.

Van Wyk received a national and provincial award for her outstanding performance in the 2018 matric exams, and was presented with the provincial “Excellence despite barriers to learning” award.

She was also placed third nationally in the special schools category by the Basic Education Department.

After receiving the Braille certificate, given by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) in collaboration with Pioneer School for the Blind, which Van Wyk attended, and Pioneer Printers, Van Wyk said she felt acknowledged.

“When I receive something that’s written, I feel as if it’s not mine and I can’t appreciate it as much as I do when I receive something in Braille.

“It’s very important to me because it feels as if I’m acknowledged, as if I’m a part of the outside world. I can always go back to that certificate a few years later and read what it was for and remember how hard I had worked to get it,” she said.

WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the department had never printed a Braille certificate before.

“Printing of certificates is done in-house and usually in haste given the tight time frames between the release of the results and the award ceremony. The WCED doesn’t have an in-house Braille printer,” Hammond said.

She said they had never received any comments or complaints about it, but they realised the potential benefits of a Braille certificate to a blind pupil.

“If one puts it into perspective, Braille is their reading language. So for those who are sighted, it’s like receiving a certificate in another language one doesn’t understand and having to ask someone to translate it.

“By providing a Braille certificate, we’re giving that learner the opportunity to read his or her own certificate in their ‘reading language’. The WCED examinations directorate will take this forward with future award-winners who are sight-challenged. It’s a wonderful initiative and we’re grateful for the support Pioneer Printers provided.”