BRIGHT FUTURES — Visually impaired student Emily Montijo tackles multi-media learning at Bob Hope

Published 12:19 am Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Every day, Emily Montijo does something that not many other students do. She is visually impaired and uses class time at Bob Hope High School to perfect her multimedia skills.

A team of teachers helps Montijo with learning, using devices that enlarge images and are working with her to learn braille.

While Montijo is still learning the basics of braille, her teachers say she is catching on quickly and taking time at home to learn on her own. Montijo is able to take some of the machines, like the Perkins Brailler and Smart Brailler, home for more learning.

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Braillist and assistive technology teacher Jeanie Bell said Montijo is learning the alphabet, but has jumped ahead and is spelling words on her own.

“She went to making the words by herself,” Bell said. “We were holding her back to make sure she has the basics, but she goes far beyond what we ask her to do. She does a really good job. She works and practices every night on it.”

Kristi Campbell, standing, from left, Lance Elizondo, Cindy Reynolds and Jeanie Bell are part of the team that help Emily Montijo, sitting, maximize her learning experience despite a visual impairment. (Chris Moore/The News)

Reynolds said the Smart Brailler has helped Montijo the most. The device allows her to sit and type in braille while giving her auditory feed back. The machine has several settings that enable it to read aloud letters, words, sentences or a combination. While the brailler looks like a typewriter, the technology is far from archaic.

Cindy Reynolds, who is a teacher for the visually impaired, said Montijo is one of the few students in her teaching career that is using multimedia.

“I’ve worked for 36 years in other districts and have probably trained about 100 kids to use braille,” Reynolds said. “We are really proud of her.”

Montijo goes to a room on the second floor of the high school to finish assignments with the help of her devices. She walks the halls with the help of a cane, navigating better than some of the teachers, Reynolds said.

Dian Potter teaches cane travel at the school.

“It really does take a village,” Reynolds said.

Montijo’s village has paid off.

Reynolds said the devices help the student learn in ways that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. The school ordered a recorder for Montijo to use to aid with note taking. She also uses a CCTV with Merlin and a large-print keyboard and Zoom program. If images on her computer are too small, she uses a Ruby, which is a tablet that acts as a magnifying glass.

Montijo said that her favorite subject is U.S. History. While she does not yet know what she wants to do when she graduates, Bell said she believes it will be in the technology field due to her love of her devices and video games.

Montijo said she also loves to bake brownies and cupcakes.