When her son was diagnosed with a rare condition that causes serious visual impairment, Gracie Benedith-Cane says she was devastated.
"What's going to become of his future?" she recalls wondering. Now she looks at 12-year-old Wani and sees a boy who is confident, warm-hearted and smart. And she sees a world of possibility for his future.
Before he was a year old, Wani was diagnosed with septo-optic nerve dysplasia, a rare congenital malformation syndrome that affects the optic nerve, pituitary gland and other parts of the body. The diagnosis means that Wani can see just a little out of the corners of his eyes, and is significantly visually impaired.
“I realized something was going on with his eyes when he was two months,” she said, “I took him to the doctor, and he told me that he wasn’t going to have 100 percent of his vision.”
Benedith-Cane's first reaction was fear. “What is his future going to be like? How is he going to make it in the sighted world?” said Benedith-Cane.
Today, the mother of three has made it her mission to create a world in which her son can function independently.
When Wani became old enough to dress himself in the morning, they realize he struggled to do so without asking for help. As a solution, Benedith-Cane started making braille patches for her son's clothing.
“The patches, they're adhesive and you could stick them to clothes. And it has directional cues such as back, left, and right,” said Wani. “if the Braille's on the inside that means it's inside-out and if it's on the outside, then it means it's fine.”
Benedith-Cane has since started her own company, Braille Code Inc. where she sells the patches so that others can benefit from the innovation as well.
Wani said he will not be discouraged by obstacles ahead.
When asked about it, he said, “I want sighted people to know that blind and visually impaired people can do great things."