Keisha Anderson doesn’t see the mesmerizing gold and auburn hues of fall like most people do, in fact she doesn’t see at all. Keisha is legally blind and was diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition known as retinitis pigmentosa (RP) at the age of four.

Keisha’s diagnosis of RP is considerably rare, and only affects one in 4000 people in North America.

While the onset of RP can occur at any age, the average age is typically late 20’s to early 30’s.

Despite being diagnosed at such an early age, Keisha has always been eager to learn, grow and experience her world to the fullest.

She began to learn braille in kindergarten and by grade 1, she had all but mastered it.

Her lust for learning, reading and writing was evident to all of her teachers and as early as grade 1, Keisha entered her first poetry contest.

The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) has been hosting its braille writing contest since 1997 as a way to encourage young children to read and write braille as a means of communication, literacy and increasing individual independence and employability skills.

Participating in her first CNIB braille writing contest only fueled Keisha’s desire to improve her brailling and writing skills and this is exactly what she did.

After a short hiatus from competing in the CNIB national braille writing contest, Keisha returned in grade 5 with extremely advanced brailling skills and a thirst for writing, which earned her first place.

This year’s CNIB competition was no different; Keisha took another first place in the grades 4-6 poetry division and was awarded $125.

Judges were so impressed with Keisha’s poem that they invited her to read it at a CNIB conference in Toronto this October.

“Winning this award made me very happy and proud and I am more motivated to show off my braille skills to my new English teacher,” Keisha said. “I want people to know that I am no different then they are and just because I am blind, doesn’t mean that there is anything else wrong with me.”

This can-do attitude has motivated Keisha to start her own business, Magic Fingers Ltd..

Magic Fingers specializes in transcribing restaurant menus into braille, so that visually impaired and blind people can feel included and more importantly, feel independent in their dine-out experiences.

Participating in the CNIB braille writing competition has given Keisha her voice, confidence and determination to succeed at whatever she does, despite her vision loss.