The Spanish writer with deafblindness María Jesús Cañamares Muñoz (Jábaga, Cuenca) has won the 2020 European Braille Writing Contest, with his work entitled ‘Braille: A mark in the lockdown’, which was the winner among 45 applicants from 16 countries.
This contest is convened every year by the European Union of the Blind, on behalf of Onkyo Co. Ltd. and Braille Mainichi, to promote the use of braille as an essential tool for access to information and social inclusion of citizens with visual disabilities who live in Europe.
“I am extremely happy for having won this award,” says María Jesús Cañamares, who adds that “I am a deafblind person with cochlear implants, but I use Braille for everything”.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the 3-month lockdown, María Jesús explains: “I approach the contest with an authentic and real story, my story, telling what I was feeling at that time and what Braille meant to me; indeed, I switch off from my computer and my mobile almost completely”. Despite being a regular user of technology, María Jesús feels and experiences the need to touch papers and books in Braille, and to go back to the memories of everything that Braille meant to her.
This writer, who published her first book in 2019 entitled ‘Tales and period’ says that during the confinement due to the pandemic “I read on paper, in Braille, all those books, letters and papers that I had been keeping in my closet for years . And I prayed the rosary, why not? Asking to get out of this terrible nightmare ”.
“I am sure that Louis Braille enlightened me the day I decided to express my feelings during the lockdown in the story that I sent to the contest. Thank you, my dear Louis, for everything you have given me! “, concludes.
María Jesús Cañamares was born in Jábaga (Cuenca), in 1963, where she resides. She is blind from birth and lost her hearing at the age of 11, due to antibiotics to cure the flu that damaged her auditory nerve until she lost hearing completely.
It is the second time that María Jesús Cañamares has won the European Braille Writing Contest. The first time was in 2012 when she shared the award with another participant affiliated with ONCE.
Braille RAE (Royal Academy of the Spanish Language)
In the Spanish phase of the European Braille Writing Contest, a total of 41 papers are received, of which five are selected by the Spanish Braille Commission (CBE), a Spanish institution that regulates the norms for the use and development of Braille, as well as the symbols in relief and color applicable to sheets or any product to be used by blind people (maps, building plans, signs, pictograms …)
The Spanish Braille Commission, a kind of Royal Academy of the Spanish Language (RAE) of Braille, advises corporations and organizations on how to include braille in their products and services. Last year more than 400 assessments were carried out, such as those of the accessible voting envelopes of several electoral processes.
All papers are available in English, on the website of the European Blind Union (EBU): http://www.euroblind.org/campaigns-and-activities/current-activities/braille-promotion#_Onkyo_World_Braille
Blog of Maria Jesus (in Spanish): https://bit.ly/38L3XDL