This New York mother was determined to ensure her visually impaired son would have a great life. Gracie Benedith-Cane’s son, Wani, was two months old when she noticed something different about her baby in their Brooklyn home.
“I realized something was going on with his eyes when he was two months,” she told Today. “I took him to the doctor, and he told me that he wasn’t going to have 100 percent of his vision.”
He was diagnosed with septo-optic nerve dysplasia, a disorder affecting the development of optic nerves in the brain. The small size of the nerves disrupts their ability to send visual information to the brain, according to the U.S. Library of Medicine. It is a rare condition found in 1 out of every 10,000 live births, and the cause is unknown.
Consequently, Wani has very little vision from his periphery. Gracie was devastated when she received the news and worried about his future.
“What is his future going to be like? How is he going to make it in the sighted world?”she remembered thinking.
The family learned to adapt, and the mother of three found ways to help Wani, now 12, secure his independence.
When Wani was old enough to dress himself, his mother noticed he was struggling. So, she invented her solution: braille patches.
The patches are attached to Wani’s clothing and shoes with instructions to ensure he is wearing the items properly.
“The patches, they’re adhesive and you could stick them to clothes. And it has directional cues such as back, left and right,” Wani explained. “If the braille is on the inside, that means it’s inside-out and if it’s on the outside, then it means it’s fine.”
Gracie sells the patches through her company, Braille Code, Inc. She also sells self-authored books to help kids learn about navigating the world with a visual impairment.
Wani has a message for sighted folks.
“I want sighted people to know that blind and visually impaired people can do great things,” the preteen said.
Braille Code Inc. products can be purchased from the company’s website.