People You Should Know…

        Dr. Abraham Nemeth, Ph.D.

Dr. Abraham Nemeth, Ph.D.

24111 Civic Center Dr.

Apt. 409

Southfield, MI 48034

(248) 356-5353

anemeth@ece.eng.wayne.edu

Dr. Abraham Nemeth was the recipient of the Exemplary Advocate Award, which was presented at the CEC Convention in Kansas City. Although he flew in to Kansas City immediately before the award ceremony, and flew from Kansas City to New Mexico the following morning, he graciously made time to share his thoughts and wisdom with the members of DVI. Those of us who were honored to meet him will always remember his firm handshake and his sense of humor.

Please explain what you do.

          I am presently revising the Nemeth Code for Mathematics and Science Notation. I am calling it the Universal Braille System (UBS) and I want it to compete with the Unified English Braille Code (UEBC). I am also brailling a Hebrew prayer book consisting of thousands of print pages that has Hebrew and English on facing pages. Worshippers would be able to take only one braille volume to the synagogue, suited to the occasion. I spend time keeping up with my e-mail correspondence and answering braille-related questions from the ZYLX (As You Like It) braille list.

Why did you choose the career that you did?

          Even as a child, I was interested in math. I was a peer tutor in Jr. High School for a student who was studying algebra. In college, my counselors said that I couldn’t do it… study math and become a math teacher. I started to devise the Nemeth Code to show them that I could learn higher level math, and eventually teach it.

What 2 or 3 accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction?

Getting a job teaching math, earning my Ph.D., and creating a talking scientific calculator that a blind person can use are the achievements that I value the most.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from your work?

          The most important lesson I have learned from my work is that people don’t judge you by how hard you try, but by what you accomplish. I have also learned lessons from my study of the Talmud… that “we are not required to complete the work, but neither are we free to desist from doing it.”

What do you think it takes to be successful in our field?

          The most important thing is to expect from a blind child what you expect from a sighted child. Don’t lower your standards because the child is blind. Expect the child to live up to his/her potential.

How would a friend, colleague or professor describe you?

          “Is this time to be modest or time to tell the truth?”… People often describe me as being brilliant. I’ve been told I have a warm heart, a sense of humor, and that I love to talk with people about my life’s passions… my work. However, people do not get to know my true personality if they only study the work I have created in the Nemeth Code.

What are your interests outside of work?

          I enjoy playing classical and popular music on the piano. I’m self-taught, and a pretty good piano player. Did you know that I wrote a braille musical dictionary for the APH?

What is your favorite book? What are you reading now?

          My favorite book is Green Mansions by Hudson. Now I prefer to read magazines such as PC World, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and Science News.

If you could do so, how would you plan your career differently?

          I wouldn’t! I’m very happy with what I’ve been doing with my life.

What words of wisdom would you like to share with the members of DVI?

          It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness” and

“nothing is evenly distributed in this world” are two of my favorite quotes.

What challenges do you see before us?

          We need to improve braille. We need to make it more coherent and reduce the inconsistencies and conflicts within the codes.

Anything else you’d like to add?

          More intensive teacher training is crucial to the successful education of children who are blind.

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