Before we dive into this, please watch my quick “Back to School” message:
If you watched the video you know my passionate answer to the question of whose job is it to insure our blind children, and all children actually, achieve at a high level: Teacher +Parent + Kiddo. Yep, it’s a 3 part team. Meatloaf sang a song that “Two Outta Three Ain’t Bad”, but in this case, I completely disagree! All three parties need to be at the party to make the school year a success. If you are like my family, you already set up a bunch of great systems last year to set the stage for this year. But if you didn’t do that yet no worries, just get started now on getting on the right track!
Before we can move forward on this journey of high expectations and high achievement together please hear this: Teachers and parents, it is your job, it is your responsibility, and I pray it becomes your passion, to guide your blind student/child to their greatness, just like you do with sighted children. And blind students, it is your job, your responsibility, and I pray it becomes your passion, to explore all of your gifts and talents and to put in 100% effort to achieve your greatness.
Whether you have met a blind person before or not, I want you to know what I know: I have met very successful moms, dads, mountain climbers, lawyers, actors, business leaders, non profit leaders, speakers, singers, and IronMan competitors – ALL of which are blind. Possibilities for greatness for blind children are everywhere! Let’s guide these kiddos to their greatness!
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TEACHERS: When you work with a blind student your mindset needs to be one of which you are responsible to give the blind student every tool and every motivation that you give sighted children. Ignite them. Support them. Challenge them.
PARENTS: When you walk into the school or the IEP meeting your mindset needs to be one of high standards and action. You are responsible to know what the curriculum is for the sighted children and make sure your blind child is receiving the same curriculum. Be patient (at first) with the teacher’s learning curve in teaching a blind student but be relentless in your pursuit to equip your child with the same skills the sighted students learn in addition to the blind skills your child needs to learn.
STUDENTS: When you walk into the school the fact is undeniable: you need to work harder than most other kids. Get that mindset now and things will go a heck of a lot easier. Is it fair? I don’t care it it’s fair or not. It’s a fact. And trust me, when you put in the hard work now, it gets easier down the road. You need to advocate for yourself. You need to access everything your classmates are accessing – and you can speak up to get that access in a confident but considerate way.
Some of you might need some radical inspiration, others might just need a few practical resources. I invite you to explore a few of my favorites:
Making It Work Educating the Blind/Visually Impaired Student in the Regular School by Carol Castellano
Family Connect Back to School Checklist for Parents of a Child Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired
WATCH: Erik Weihenmayer – the only blind person to summit Mt. Everest, and he’s climbed all seven summits of the world… and then some.
www.crb1.org – Resources for Raising Blind Children – scroll down to the technology resources part – good links to overviews of great tech products that will be game changers in the classroom!
Mitchell Smedley (blind) school safety – this isn’t really much of a resource other than to show you that blind kiddos can do some stuff in the school you might not have thought about – but I am really just adding it here because it makes me laugh every single time I watch it (and he’s my incredibly funny middle child!)
Stay tuned for more. Send me your struggles and I will try to help. Send me your successes and I will celebrate with you! And if you want more concrete info on blind folks that are out their rocking their dreams and achieving their greatness, sign up to get info on the release of my new book coming later this Fall!