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Local

Blind college student provides inspiration to Bell Graham students

Cody Marbutt (far right) reads a braille book to second and third graders while LRC director Peter Vanderbleek holds the same (non-braille) version of the book at Bell Graham Elementary School in St. Charles on Nov. 2.
Cody Marbutt (far right) reads a braille book to second and third graders while LRC director Peter Vanderbleek holds the same (non-braille) version of the book at Bell Graham Elementary School in St. Charles on Nov. 2.

As students at Bell Graham Elementary School learned on Nov. 2, blindness has not stopped Kishwaukee Community College student Cody Marbutt from working to achieve his dreams.

The 23-year-old Marbutt, of DeKalb, is the son of Bell Graham administrative assistant to the principal Kristina Marbutt. The visit was in conjunction with a book the students are reading, "Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille." Braille was a French educator who developed a system of printing and writing called braille that is used by the blind.

"One of the things that you may or may not notice is that I'm completely blind," Marbutt told the students, in introducing himself. "And the reason for that is because I was born too early. And also, when your body is being developed, your eyes are the last things to be developed. And that's why I can't see."

Although he is blind, that is not stopping him from studying audio production at Kishwaukee Community College. Marbutt hopes to someday do voice overs as well as narrate audiobooks.

As part of the visit, Marbutt read from one of the first Braille books he learned to read, and showed students how he "writes" using a Perkins Brailler.

"It's sort of like an old-fashioned typewriter," Marbutt said. "But instead of outputting print, it outputs braille."

Marbutt also showed the students how a computer screen reader program helps him to "read" what is on the screen.

"It will speak to me whatever is on the screen," he said.

Marbutt is also a talented piano player, which surprised the students.

"I just memorize the notes, and after hearing a song a few times, I'm able to play it," he said, in answering a question from a student.

However, there are a few things that he can't do, such as drive.

"If I had low vision, I probably would be restricted to a certain amount of driving," Marbutt said. "Since I am completely blind, no, [I can't drive.]"

Bell Graham fifth-grade student Luke Johnson, 11, of St. Charles, was impressed by Marbutt's drive in the face of his blindness.

"I learned from him that even if you are completely blind, it doesn't mean that you can't just do what you want to do in life," he said.

Fellow Bell Graham fifth-grade student Liza Kovalev, 10, also of St. Charles, agreed.

"I learned that if you're blind, that doesn't mean you can't do stuff that other people can do," she said. "He plays piano better than me and I've been taking piano lessons since I was 4."

Liza also was inspired by what Marbutt can do.

"After seeing that, it made me more confident in a way," she said. "I can see what I'm reading and where I'm going. And he lives in darkness."

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