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Technology helps a blind teen write a joke book

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MURRAY, Utah — A Murray teen who is blind is writing a book. It's a short collection of jokes and it's made possible with the help of technology and teachers with special training.

When what's placed right in front of you isn't quite so clear, you sometimes take a different approach.

Maddox Hagemann is learning that through his desire to share humor, something that he's a big fan of himself. He's compiling some of his favorite jokes from the internet.

"Ha, yes I am actually," Hagemann said. "Some of them are funny. Some of them are a little bit cheesy."

He's doing it with the help of his teacher Jenny Hooper.

Hooper finds a joke, "What does a storm cloud wear under his raincoat? Thunderwear," she laughed.

She is helping Hagemann do some things many of us may take for granted all thanks to a BrailleNote tablet.

"You can email. You can do Google Docs. You can do Word documents," Hooper explained.

Most of us learn how to type. There is a learning curve there, but even more so with the BrailleNote. Hagemann started learning braille when he was 10 years old. There's a lot to overcome there.

But he is getting there. Hagemann is legally blind now and his rare condition means his vision will only get worse.

"And Maddox's confidence, his ability to interact with people, and even learning humor and being to able to develop relationships," Hooper said.

It's allowing him to be a part of his regular classes as a sophomore at Murray High School. A place, where written words are everywhere.

He'll share the book of jokes with some of his friends who are also learning braille. It's challenging but a little humor can go a long way.

"What did the ocean say to the shore," Hagemann asked. "Nothing. It just waved."

The Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind has 35 BrailleNotes to help kids much like Hagemann. They are paid for with grants and donations.

Hagemann said, "It makes it a lot easier for me."

Donations to supply braille notes to more students can be made to the USDB Education Foundation nonprofit here .


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Mike Anderson
Mike Anderson often doubles as his own photographer, shooting and editing most of his stories. He came to KSL in April 2011 after working for several years at various broadcast news outlets.


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