Fingertips, the palms of our hands, shapes, and textures are some things we sighted people take for granted. My daughter’s 4th grade class visited The American Printing House for the Blind for a field trip last week. The 4th grade is learning about disabilities and blindness is one of those. The children were able to touch the different learning tools for the blind. They were taught how to use a Braille writer to type their names. We were shown many different inventions to help the blind be more mainstreamed giving them the ability to live more independently.
One of the women who work at APH is Maria. Maria is so very special to our school. She is blind and has visited our school for the past 4 years to share her story with our 4th graders. She is an inspiration to us all. She has been blind since she was a young adult and she lives on her own with her service dog Corbin. I love the time I spend with her. I volunteer to drive her to our school to talk and back to her work place after she is finished. She always brings cool gadgets with her to show the kids; like the one that reads colors with a push of a button. She tells the story of how she lost her vision and how she gets around. She lets the kids ask anything they want to ask. She is so very kind and caring. She travels for her job on planes, in taxis etc. She has no fear she just goes. She has such a love for children and an amazing amount of compassion for others.
In order for the children to experience a little bit of what it is like to be disabled I set up a disability workshop. The kids worked at different stations one of which was for the blind. They were blindfolded and had to trust another person to lead them outside the building and back into the room, sounds easy right? A student guided me and it was a powerless feeling. I had to totally rely on this child, that she would not run me into something or into the parking lot. I could feel the heat on my face and as we re- entered the building the noise level was so high I could not tell which direction I was walking. Maria has told the 4th graders how much trust a blind person has to have in those who guide them through the grocery stores, to buy clothes, to get their hair done etc.
I thank God for Maria and her love for others because of her all the 4th graders from our school know a little bit more about this disability and the fact that it does not disable everyone. Maria is more than just a functioning adult she is a thriving, beautiful, inspirational woman whom none of them are soon to forget. My prayer is the field trip, the disability workshop and the visit from Maria will help our children to appreciate our fingertips, the palms of our hands, shapes textures and the triumph of human will over all disabilities.