Acts of Kindness
Blind teen has no idea his classmates worked 1,500 hours to bring this special gift to life
When he realized what was happening, he nearly broke down.
Jenny Brown
01.19.23

The theme for the Conifer High School yearbook is “More Than Meets The Eye.”

And the theme was chosen for a very special reason – students from the Colorado school managed to make a braille copy of the yearbook for their blind classmate.

YouTube Screenshot - CBS Colorado
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - CBS Colorado

School yearbooks are already a massive undertaking for student editors, but RJ Sampson’s classmates took the time to make this special gesture happen for his senior year.

And not only did they make the text into braille, but they also developed an app for him that would queue up audio recordings of the text as well!

YouTube Screenshot - CBS Colorado
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - CBS Colorado

The app will play audio recordings and videos when a smartphone is held over certain photos.

“It just made the book completely accessible for him so he can enjoy it just as much as the rest of the students,” a yearbook staff member said.

YouTube Screenshot - CBS Colorado
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - CBS Colorado

On the last day of freshman year, RJ asked his study hall teacher if he might ever get a braille yearbook to enjoy.

While his teacher was eager to help him, she didn’t think the school had the resources to make it possible.

But by 2019, teacher Leslie Thompson and her staff of students on the yearbook team pulled it off.

YouTube Screenshot - CBS Colorado
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - CBS Colorado

Altogether, it took 1,500 hours to make Sampson’s special yearbook!

The best part – Sampson had no idea what was coming.

He assumed everyone had forgotten about his years-old request.

Classmate and yearbook editor-in-chief Laurel Ainsworth presented the book to him at an end-of-year “senior send-off” assembly as the whole school gathered together to watch the presentation.

YouTube Screenshot - CBS Colorado
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - CBS Colorado

Ainsworth reported having butterflies before the presentation of the group’s hard work:

“Yeah, I’m nervous,” she told 9News. “My stomach doesn’t hurt or anything — it’s all in my head. I just hope that we covered everything so that they can look back in 20 years and we did it justice.”

But Sampson couldn’t stop beaming as his classmates cheered the announcement that they finally made it happen.

YouTube Screenshot - CBS Colorado
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - CBS Colorado

“It’s absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to actually read it,” he said, after giving a nod to the close-knit student community at Conifer High School.

“It really means a lot to me,” and emotional RJ said. “The community here is really so loving.”

YouTube Screenshot - CBS Colorado
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - CBS Colorado

Sampson had never bothered to get a high school yearbook since the small words made it impossible for him to enjoy.

The gesture was undoubtedly a great lesson for the students involved, not only in the importance of making things accessible to the disabled but in realizing just how much they take for granted.

And Sampson didn’t take their work for granted, acknowledging the time, effort, and money that went into creating a book just for him.

Because braille is much larger than printed English, the book involved a lot of unique design work.

YouTube Screenshot - CBS Colorado
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - CBS Colorado

Ultimately, the yearbook committee was thrilled that their surprise went off without a hitch, and their efforts were appreciated.

Sampson is now on his way to college to study computer science at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Learn more about this heartwarming story in the video below!

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

Article Sources:
To learn more read our Editorial Standards.
By Jenny Brown
[email protected]
Jenny Brown is a senior writer at Shareably. She is based in San Francisco and can be reached at [email protected]
Advertisement
Advertisement