Basically, I want to know if there are schools with programs for gifted blind students. I know that most of the dedicated “schools for the blind” are now schools for very handicapped children who are also blind, and a regular school’s gifted and talented program might not be adapted well to the extra services a blind student would need. Do these sort of programs exist, or would the student be stuck with “normal”-level instruction as a “special ed” kid in a regular school?
I went to high school with a very intelligent blind guy. He went on to graduate from college then go to law school. He used braille, recording, and whatever other services were needed to participate in regular and advanced placement classes at a good suburban high school.
Oh, cool, Harriet. At my school, I don’t think we had any blind students when I was there who didn’t also have other disabilities that made them need to have special classes, so I never got to see what would have been done for a blind person of normal or higher intelligence.
When I went to the University there were several blind students in my classes. There was nothing extraordinary about the situation except that they took notes in braille. Doing so made a noise because they were quickly punching holes in a card. Invariably, the blind person was the smartest person in class so when others heard the punching noise everyone payed close attention and also took notes.
That is so cool! If I were blind in that situation I’d probably start typing at some improper spot in the lecture just to yank chains!
There are at least three blind medical doctors. David Hartman’s book “White Coat, White Cane” is a must-read.
A friend of mine in high school was blind and used a brailler to do her work. (She was also a very good student, in AP classes and stuff. She went off to college just like anyone else after high school.) Anyway, she totally screwed around and did whatever when she didn’t feel like working because the teacher wouldn’t know. We were in Algebra II together and she would look like she was working hard and then whisper to me that she was actually writing a letter to a friend or something.
ETA: although my friend was in regular classes, she had one special class a week, where she would be assigned to do something rather challenging, like take the bus to a nearby city and go to the movies, or go grocery shopping and buy some specific items. This might sound difficult to someone who hasn’t spent much time around blind people, but she was 100% capable of doing these things. I was pretty freaking impressed at first, but eventually got used to the fact that she could do pretty much anything I could do…and usually better.
This matches my experience, except the blind person in question wasn’t really exceptional - pretty much a normal good student.
Until this thread it had never occurred to me that the blind should not be mixed with sighted students.
Thanks to everyone for their helpful replies. It’s good to see that schools do make accommodations for smart kids who are blind. (Also, forgot to mention that this would be happening largely pre-Americans with Disabilities Act, but I assume that at least some of you who have replied are old enough to have gone to school before a lot of this accommodation was made mandatory.)
Wow…those things do sound impossible to me (and sending someone who can’t see to the movies seems very mean :() That’s really cool that your friend could do those things. How on earth would she find specific things in the grocery store? (Assuming she wasn’t allowed to cheat and ask someone to help her find them.)
My friend John has been blind from birth. His parents sent him to a military boarding school at the age of 7. Crazy, but true.
I met him in college. He had people to read the textbooks and outside readings to him for anything that wasn’t available in Braille. The people who read to him were work-study students, usually someone from the same class. He also tape-recorded lectures so that he could listen to them again.
How is asking for help in locating items in a grocery store cheating? I’m sighted and I have to ask for help!
Well, if it’s a school assignment to go and get these certain things, I think they would probably think it was cheating if you didn’t find them yourself.
I was a volunteer reader for blind students at Harvard Law School. Those were some extremely intelligent blind people. They had a number of accommodations, including volunteers like me, but basically attended the regular classes with everyone else.
My favorite story about that job:
I was setting up hours for the new semester with one student, and he suggested that we meet Thursday evening. I didn’t want to do Thursday, because my favorite T.V. show, “Hill Street Blues” was on that night, but of course I didn’t want to sound like a jerk and give that as the reason. I suggested that we meet on Wednesday night. He immediately responded, "Sorry, I can’t do Wednesday – I can’t miss “Dynasty”.
I think she did ask people to help her find stuff.
My friend wasn’t as sensitive as all that, you know. She enjoyed movies and TV shows as much as anyone. Just because she couldn’t see them didn’t mean she wanted to sit in the corner while everyone else watched a film or something. (And she used the same verbs as everyone else, like “I saw this movie last night…”) She was INCREDIBLY able around school. She could walk around the campus and she knew where EVERYTHING was - how many stairs were here, exactly where the turn i the corridor was, it was amazing. I know that she did get a guide dog before she got to college, though, it would have been very difficult to get around a big university campus this way.
We lost touch ages ago and thinking about this made me idly search for her on Facebook. She’s on it! I don’t know how she does it, but I know that she had some kind of system so that she could email people, and this was back in the 90s. (We graduated in 1996.) Presumably there’s some kind of voice software/brailler interface so that blind people can surf the web.
Well, I know if it was me, I wouldn’t WANT to miss out on movies or tv, but you would miss most of what’s going on if you couldn’t see it.
The character I’m writing about likes music, since that’s something she can enjoy without seeing it. She also plays the cello and sings. (I know blind people can play instruments, I’ve seen pictures. There must be Braille music or something, I need to do more research…)
I had a friend in college who was deaf, but she really liked to go to concerts. She liked the vibrations.
meenie7, check to see if your state has an Office of Vocational Rehabilitation or something similar. If you are talking about a college age student, you will be able to get guidance and almost certainly some funding too. They gave me financial assistance every year that I was in college. All I had to do was to keep them informed of my schedule.
Another of my friends has her Ph.D. and is a college professor. (We were high school chums.) She has no use of her arms. She never let it slow her down.
Zoe, I’ll look into that. This character is college aged now, but I was thinking about her past and how it would have been handled. I knew she was too smart to have been shunted into special ed, but I’ve never known any blind people who weren’t disabled in some other way too.
Cecilia, the character in question, doesn’t let her disability stop her – but, unfortunately for her, events in the book kill her dreams (along with everyone else in the United States’s dreams, heh.) But, she was in college to be a music teacher.
I’ve been to the movies with a blind friend. She isn’t 100% blind, but she’s legally blind and basically sees big splotches of color. She’s perfectly able to follow a movie; you don’t need to see the actors to know which voice belongs to which caracter. When they showed something that was relevant but only visual, we’d whisper it to her (“he’s found some cracked glasses”). Heck, my mother is sighted and sometimes she asks me “what’s that” when she’s the one watching the movie on TV and I’m just reading a book in the same room!
And the rhythm, no doubt. There is a deaf musician, Evelyn Glennie. She does percussion, but in a very broad sense (including vibraphone and bells) and plays barefoot with an orchestra. Amazing performance. She actually “hears” the vibrations.