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Hadley Honors 92-Year-Old Woman as 'Braille Student of the Year'

Clarice Cocco

Together with her husband of 68 years, Rocco, Sr. (who passed away four years ago), Clarice Cocco raised five children. Today, she lives in Austin, Texas, and is grandmother to ten, and great grandmother to three. And in October of 2018, she will be formally recognized as Hadley's "Braille Student of the Year."

A native of rural Minnesota, Clarice raised her family in Poughkeepsie, NY and moved to Texas in 2009. A vision rehab counselor in Texas suggested to Clarice that she may want to learn braille in the event that she completely lost her sight due to glaucoma and macular degeneration. She contacted Hadley to do so.

While considered legally blind today, Clarice never did completely lose her vision. And yet she is still glad to have learned braille.

"My aim was never to go back to school and learn to read books in braille. Instead, I've found many other practical uses for braille that sighted people might not think significant." Identifying her mailbox from a sea of similar looking units, differentiating one medication from the next, finding her insurance card in her wallet, or even identifying various canned goods in her pantry are just a few examples of tasks that have all been made easier for Clarice through the use of braille labels.

"Those 'little things' are so valuable," Clarice explains. "Hadley taught me that through braille labeling I would be able to identify things by touch and not have to constantly ask others for assistance." She continues, "Each time that I braille label something, I feel a little more independent."

Clarice uses braille on her crochet hooks to help differentiate between sizes. She puts this hobby to good use, too. In just over two years, Clarice has crocheted nearly 300 hats and countless headbands for the homeless to help keep warm during the often-chilly Austin winters.

"I never expected that learning braille would be easy," Clarice remarks. "But what I found most helpful is that I did not need to do this on my own. I felt the support and encouragement of Hadley all along the way."

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