Can you imagine being visually impaired in high school? As if that weren’t difficult enough, Colorado student RJ Sampson was unable to read the school yearbook. At the end of his freshman year, Sampson had one small request for his teacher: to make a yearbook for the visually challenged. Four years later, the yearbook club was able to fulfill this young man’s request. Find out how students quietly spent 1,500 hours creating a braille yearbook for their blind classmate.
A Simple Favor
As a senior at Conifer High School, Sampson was an avid student that loved attending school. His only issue with his high school was that they weren’t producing any yearbooks for the visually impaired. That’s why at the end of his first year of school, he approached his study hall teacher Leslie Thompson to ask a simple favor. Apparently, Sampson questioned Thompson, “When are you going to make me a braille Yearbook?”
Sadly, Thompson replied that she couldn’t fulfill Sampson’s request. She knew that it was already overwhelming enough to create a yearbook for the student body, let alone a special one for an individual student. Several years went by, and Sampson was still unable to read the regular yearbook with the rest of his class.
Labor Of Love
Little did Sampson know that Thompson, the yearbook club, and the vision committee were working hard to provide a braille-friendly yearbook since April 2018. In fact, the restless team spent over 1,500 hours creating the perfect yearbook for Sampson. Though the pages weren’t translated into braille, the yearbook club recorded audio and visual media to fill Sampson in. Rachel Zamora, who assisted with the braille translation, stated that “Braille is just so much bigger, so we had to make sure that we wrote it where it would fit on one page of the yearbook.”
Before Sampson was presented with the yearbook club’s labor of love, the team’s editor-in-chief Laurel Ainsworth told reporters at 9News that “I poured, like, everything I have into this.” Finally, it was time for Sampson to receive the braille yearbook that he had requested. He was given the braille yearbook at the end of his senior year. On the big day of the surprise, Ainsworth gave a speech in front of the entire student body about their secret project, saying “since freshman year, RJ Sampson asked Ms. Thompson if she was gonna make him a braille yearbook. And I’m proud to say that we’ve done it.”
Once Sampson was gifted with his rare braille yearbook, he was incredibly grateful for the yearbook club’s efforts. The visually impaired student told local reporters at 9News that, “I really appreciate it. There are no words that I could really use to describe how thankful I am right now. It’s just absolutely amazing.” About his reaction to the yearbook club’s present, Sampson also told the media that “I was really shocked that it was made a possibility and everything. I really do appreciate everyone going out of their way to have made it for me. It means a lot.” When he graduates, the young scholar plans to study engineering at Colorado University.
Social media response has been super positive. Shockingly, when 9News posted its segment about Sampson’s surprise on YouTube, the video received over 4,100 views in just over a month. Plus, the media site Shareably’s Facebook post about Sampson’s one-of-a-kind braille yearbook gained 3,400 likes, 1,000 shares, and 125 comments. Looks like senior year is going to be a time that Sampson will never forget!
Check out the amazing YouTube video of Sampson receiving his unique braille yearbook below:
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