Future Reflections Special Issue, Vol. 14 No. 2
[PICTURE] Blind people also teach at the college level. Dr. Norman Gardner (above left) explains the principles of finance to his college class.
The one career to which students are most often exposed is that of teaching. Day in and day out, week after week, year after year, they observe teachers on the job. It's no wonder then that many students consider teaching as a career. Many blind students think about this, too. But they may also wonder how a blind person could do the job. The National Association of Blind Educators, a division of the National Federation of the Blind, is an organization of blind teachers. These teachers share information with each other. They also try to help young blind people who are considering a career in education. The following article, reprinted from the Spring/Summer, 1993 issue of The Blind Educator, a publication of the National Association of Blind Educators, answers many of the questions sighted and blind people commonly ask about how blind teachers can do their job.
Q: How do blind teachers take attendance and grade papers?
A: A blind teacher can take the roll from Brailled cards, each of which has a student's name on it. If a student is absent the card can be turned over for marking in Braille at a later time. Many times it is very useful for students to exchange papers for correction; however, I do employ readers who correct under my direction.
Q: Would it cost a district more to hire a blind person because of liability?
A: No. Insurance rates are determined by the history of the organization being insured. The presence of a blind teacher does not alter that history nor is there actuarial evidence on which to base higher rates.
Q: How do blind teachers handle cafeteria, yard, and bus duty?
A: Blind educators walk around the yard and eating area. Also, there are always many students who are very willing to tell what is going on.
Q: How do blind teachers handle the issue of sighted students raising their hand in class?
A: As a student raises a hand the student speaks his or her name, then the blind teacher can ask the student to respond.
Q: How do blind educators teach handwriting in the early grades?
A: I would have my reader tell me about the handwriting of each student, and I would make Braille notes accordingly. I use yarn letters which are glued to heavy paper which I use to show the children how to form the letters.
Q: How do blind educators acquire teaching materials in Braille?
A: Some books are in Braille but when they are not, I have a Braille transcribing group produce the books I would need.
Q: How does a blind person get to and from work?
A: It is simply the blind teacher's responsibility to get anywhere. Public transportation, car pooling, and walking are just a few modes of transportation.
Q: What does a blind educator do in case of a fire?
A: Students have monthly fire drills so everyone knows what to do and where to go. However, I will count the students as they leave and again take roll when we reach a safe place.
Q: Does a blind teacher make sighted students uneasy?
A: Sighted students are curious and we always answer their questions honestly. The first day of school the blind teacher explains the procedure for raising hands, how the teacher reads and writes, corrects papers, and so on.
Q: Can blind educators manage "difficult" students?
A: Students try to take advantage of anyone who has a presumed weakness and blindness might be classed that way, but only for a very, very short time.
Q: Can blind teachers teach subjects such as art and physical education?
A: Blind people are as interested in art and physical education as anyone and can teach any subject.