Jo Futselaar, 15, is a blind Grade 9 pupil at St Mary’s in Wadeville, who participated in the South African Mathematics Olympiad. Picture: Supplied.
Jo Futselaar, 15, is a blind Grade 9 pupil at St Mary’s in Wadeville, who participated in the South African Mathematics Olympiad. Picture: Supplied.

Poor sight no obstacle for maths whizz

By Amber Court Time of article published Sep 28, 2020

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She didn’t let her deteriorating eyesight get in the way of her dream to become a maths boffin.

Jo Futselaar, 15, recently wrote the second round of tests with her paper in braille.

The Grade 9 pupil took part in South African Maths Olympiad (Samo) for the first time.

“Don’t let others bring you down as society is very judgemental and it is hard for people to cope in that type of situation. Try not to let them get to you,” said Jo.

The young pioneer said she wants to educate people that being blind doesn’t limit learning.

Organisers of the competition enlarged the diagrams to help her solve maths problems.

Jo was able to write separately from other competitors to allow her to answer verbally.

She added that the braille machine was very noisy for other pupils and she wanted to consider her fellow boffins.

“I like listening to audio books, chatting to friends, listening to music, playing the piano, singing and writing fictional stories,” she said.

Her mother, Janine Futselaar, said: “She has been brought up to cope in a sighted world. She is always keen to try new things such as paragliding, rock climbing, skateboarding and riding a bike.”

The proud mother said her daughter’s story is inspiring and sharing it may motivate other pupils with disabilities to strive to achieve their best.

“We are proud that she has had the opportunity to show others how capable she is. Jo does everything on her own. Her education is in the mainstream environment. It continues to amaze us,” said her mother.

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