A new challenge

Every so often my academic life gets a little challenging. I’m not talking about taking on too much because I am unable to say no because trust me, I know how to say no. I’m not talking about the social aspect (What are parties) lol. I’m not even talking about having a new roommate though I hear that can certainly be challenging.

I’m talking about being given an assignment that you’ve never heard of and not knowing how you’re going to complete it. For me such an assignment came this semester. I have to complete something called a reading inventory. Apparently it’s a book of tests that you have to give to a student that you pull out of class. The problem isn’t that I don’t understand how to give it. The problem is that I’m not sure how I’m going to give it.

Let me explain. In order to give this reading test to the student one has to be able to read along while observing how they read (mistakes, skip over words, put in new words, look at you for help etc). The problem is that I can’t read it (I have a screen reader). The problem is that I can’t read with a screen reader and listen to someone talk/read at the same time. This is definitely where a braille display (that I don’t have) could come in handy.

my question

Have you done anything like this before without a braille display? How? Do you have any suggestions I can use for this and any future assignments? if so, they’d be greately appreciated.

Thanks for reading!

You don't look blind.

On my first day of class I walked in, and sat down. The teacher started lecturing on the first day’s lesson. Everything was going fine.

There was a slight hick-up on the way to the college when I realized that I’d forgotten my digital voice recorder. However, I remembered that I could record the lecture on my Iphone. So, for that moment at least it was fine.

I was sitting there staring at the white board in front of me. I could see that it was the white board because it looked different from the wall. Plus the teacher would occasionally stand in front of it. Occasionally when she stood there I could hear the sound the marker makes when someone’s writing on a white board. I was doing my best to pay attention to what the teacher was saying.

Then, the teacher asked for us to get into groups. She said that was the way we were going to work out problems in her class. Fine with me! So, we all get into groups, and start working on whatever problem we were assigned.

After about five minutes the teacher gets our attention again. She tells us that one of us is to introduce each member of our group. Then, explain how we got the answer we did.

I’m not quite sure how this occurred, but at some point the instructor started working out a problem on the board. She asked if we could all see it, and I whisper to my scribe that I can’t see what’s on the board I tell him that I’m also confused because I don’t know what’s on the board. So, he starts reading it to me.

I’m going to pause in my story, and say Teachers, instructors, and professors. Please for the love of your job tell the blind student what you’re writing on the board. Practice what you’re reading out loud before you have them in class if you have too. But please tell them what you’re writing. We need to know this information just as badly as our sighted peers.

So, back to the story. One of the girls looks over at my scribe, and says something to him that I don’t hear. He responds with “I’m telling her what’s on the board.” The girl says: “Why?” My scribe says:” “Because she can’t see.” Girl: *probably says something about moving.* Scribe: “No really. She can’t see. She’s blind.” Girl: “Really?” Scribe: “Yeah.” Girl: “Are you serious?” Scribe: “Yeah.” Girl: “That’s cool!” Girl to me: “Are you really blind??” Me: “yeah.” Girl: “I didn’t know that. You do it well.” Me not knowing what she meant: “Thanks! I try.”

I still don’t know what she meant. If it’s the blindness thing she was talking about. I wonder what she was expecting? I wanted to ask her that, but we moved on before I could. 🙂 Whatever she expected. I hope now she’ll expect more the next time she meets a blind person. Especially if it’s a student.

Thanks for reading!

Office of disabilities card

I promised you I’d come back, and explain what the office of disabilities card is. What better day than to day… a monday, and college day. Here goes nothing.
Basically it’s this card that you’re suppose to take with you from class to class on the first day. It’s a laminated piece of paper. It has the Coordinator’s name as well as your name, student id number (used to identify you in college in the U. S.), and the ecomidations that your teachers/instructors/professors will need to make in order to teach you properly. It might contain things like “must sit in front of the room for listening purposes”
Only the office of disabilities can give you such a card. At least that’s how it works in my college. The purpose of us carrying it around is so the instructor/teacher/professor can match it to the copy they already have. As well as to match it with your face I’m assuming. They also use it to go over the ecomidations with you, and make sure they can understand them correctly At least I’m assuming that’s what their doing when they ask me questions. 🙂
Another thing is that the cards only last for two years. So after that if you’re still in college with that particular college you’d have to get it renewed. At least that’s how it works in the college I go to. If yours is different let me know. I’m actually really curious.
Thanks for reading!

The last straw!

I know that we normally do college stuff on Monday, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to post this story, so if you would please bare with me that’d be great. Here goes nothing!
A week or so ago we were in this heatwave thing. We had heat advisories, and everything. So, my dad decides that we’re going to go to class about 10-20 minutes early. Once we got there however, he discovered that there was another class happening in the classroom where I’d normally have class. (surprise, Surprise!) So we just stood in the hallway for a few minutes against the wall.
When we walked down the hallway my instructor came up to me, and said “I need to talk to you.” I said “Okay.” He proceeds to tell me that he was wrong, that he does in fact need to see my Office of disabilities card (more on that in another blog.), and that when I’d asked before he’d said that he honestly didn’t care, and meant it. (he’s an easy going guy.) He said that he’d gotten an email about it that morning, and asked that I show it to him when he came in the classroom. Before he walked away he said “I’ll be there in a few minutes.” (keep this in mind because I’ll come back to it later.) I agree, everything’s fine, and he walks away.
The next thing I know my dad’s walking away from me, and down the hall where my instructor is trying and failing to find something. (what he’s trying to find isn’t important to the story.) The next thing I hear is my dad asking “Did you need to see this card?” (refer to our conversation in the paragraph above.) So, the instructor starts looking at my card, and asking questions of… you guessed it… my dad. Also, what else was he suppose to do? I mean, my dad pretty much shoved the stupid card in his face.
Anyway, long story short. If you have to take your child to college/school for whatever reason let them advocate for themselves especially if they’re old enough too. I’d say start advocating for yourself (I’m talking to the children here, but this is also good advice for parents) as a teenager, perhaps younger, or slightly older. That is of course depending on both you, the parent/parents, and everyone else who could/should teach you how to advocate for yourself. I realize that you are mommy or daddy, but at this point (college) your child should know how to speak up for themselves. If they can’t speak up for themselves, that’s a completely different story. Most of all please pay attention. If your child just had a whole complete conversation with professor/instructor/teacher about what they need to give them, what they need to do, or whatever in the classroom don’t then go and pretty much undermine your kid. I’m speaking from experience when I say that it’s both annoying, and embarrassing for your child. It makes them feel less independent. Also, remember that once your child reaches college it is then their responsibility to complete their homework. Shouldn’t it then be their responsibility to make sure their accommodations are being met, to meet with professor/instructor/teacher if they have problems or questions, and most importantly shouldn’t they be responsible for everything that goes along with that?
Conclusion to the story:
In case anyone is wondering I came home, ranted to my mom, and she said she’d talk to my dad. Though, it probably should have been me I’m glad she did. So far he seems to be doing slightly better. There were other parts of the story that I didn’t include here because I didn’t feel like it was relevant to this blog, he’s still struggling with some of those things I think, and I can’t say for certain he won’t undermine me again. A situation like the one that presented itself a week or so ago hasn’t occurred yet.

The nice things that my teachers and Professors have done for me

I thought that since the last couple of posts talked about huge egos aned what makes me lose respect for you as a teacher that I would end this little series (if you want to call it that) by telling you some of the amazing things that my teachers and professors have done for me.

Let’s start with Ms. Biology professor with the huge ego since I seem to pick on her a lot.

In spite of me doing so she did do some pretty amazing things for me and future blind and visually impaired students who may have to take biology someday.

To start with she took my suggestions on how to make the labs better. Remember those lab critiques that I posted here? That wasn’t for you guys. I arriginally made them for her to help her understand what I needed for that class. After talking to her about it she allowed me to put them on here as long as I didn’t use her name in them. I agreed, and that’s how they ended up here.

I like when teachers come up to their students who are blind or visually impaired and ask for advice or suggestions on certain things. It makes me feel good especially when I know the answer, or have a good idea for  something that might work.

Towards the end of the semester she asked me about screen readers (text to speech programs) because they were thinking about getting one for the biology department’s computer lab. I suggested NVDA instead of Jaws because 1. it costs less. and 2 it’s better for most things then jaws. She agreed, but I have no idea if she’s looked into it yet. 🙂

I’m glad I could help her in that way, I just wish we could have talked about the note taker situation like adults. Even though I wasn’t supposed to know about it. I’m also glad that her and the rest of the Biology department worked with me, took my suggestions, and implimented them. Even though I had been their first blind student and they weren’t prepaired for me. At least when another one comes along they will be more prepaired for them then they were for me. 🙂

When I was in second grade I had this teacher who was very nice to me. She included me in things, let me draw on the chalkboard (even though I couldn’t draw) during five- minute breaks as she called them. I got to participate a little bit in the classroom as far as I can remember (I don’t really remember much from my early elementary years) (Elementary is also called Gramar school) Anyway, when I got to fourth grade she showed up to the classroom one day with a present for me. It turned out to be a talking watch. My first talking watch. It turns out that she found it in a magazine full of toys. Thank you second grade teacher who shal not be named. I’ve never forgotten your gift to me. 🙂

Out of all the years that I was in school the ones that stick out to me the most are my middle school and high school years. These years were when the teachers really took an interest in me and began trying to help me succeed. First let’s start with middle school also known as junior high. There are four teachers who stick out here the most. The first is the woman who became my vision impaired teacher (teacher who teaches blind or visually impaired people) She was my special education teacher (I have a learning disability in math) Even when she wasn’t the one teaching me she was the one who worked with others to come up with ideas and suggestions that may or may not help me. Some of them worked, and some of them didn’t work as well as intended. Thank you for being my Vision impaired teacher, and thank you for tutoring me in math when I needed it. 🙂

The second was my seventh and eighth grade english teacher. She was observant, funny, and if a student could have teachers as friends she’s one of the best. Thanks for being you. 🙂

The third one was my seventh and eighth grade math teacher. I liked him because he watched my aid work with me on math, and when she was having trouble explaining something to me he explained it in a different way so that I could understand it. He also showed the substitute how to work with me when my aid wasn’t there. Thanks for being observant. You may have thought I didn’t notice, but I did. And I apreciated every minute of it. Thanks for not making me feel dumb when I got an answer wrong. 🙂

The fourth was my eighth grade history teacher. When I asked if she could explain a picture she did it in a way that allowed me to get a picture of it in my head. Thanks for making history fun. 🙂 She also changed the air freshner in her room back to what it had been in the beginning of the year just because I said that it was one of the ways that I used to find her room. Thank you for that as well.

There’s only one high school teacher who sticks out in my mind. I won’t give her name, but she read one of my books and encouraged me to get it published. I’ve never forgotten that, so now I’m kind of looking into self publishing. We’ll see how this goes. Thanks for the encouragement, and you should feel special I remember you for a completely different reason then most of the others. Granted you helped me, but not in a sclassroom “she needs help” sort of way. Thanks for all the help with all the college stuff too. 🙂

I have a lot of professors who’ve helped me in different ways, allowing me to turn in assignments even though they’re late, resending me lost assignments ETC, and making sure I have everything I need for their class. To them I want to say thank you.

There has been two professors who have really stuck out in my mind so far, but for two completely different reasons. One was the professor whom I wrote about in a previous blog who told me who he was, and made the class do it too. Thanks for that professor. I really appreciate it. 🙂 The second was the professor that I had for Government. You taught me a lot sir. Not only that, but you made the class interesting. And I’m glad you described things in detail, so that I could get a clear picture. 🙂

None of you had to do what you did for me, and for that I think all of you from the bottom of my heart. I can’t say it enough, thank you, thank you, thank you.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog. It’s been in my head for a while, so today I decided to write it out. 🙂

Thank you all very much for reading it. 🙂

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