Future Reflections Fall 1991

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FROM THE EDITOR: It's a new school year; a time of new opportunities and fresh challenges. But sometimes this isn't so exciting; sometimes it only arouses doubts, fears, and more questions in the minds of parents and blind students.

How can a blind student handle all the map work in social studies? Maybe we should skip that. What possible interest could a blind kid have in team sports-like basketball or volleyball she couldn't play anyway? Maybe her time would be better spent in the library studying. What's the point in getting information about the student foreign exchange program? Surely a blind student could never travel and live overseas. How in the world can a blind student get anything out of an art appreciation class? Surely he shouldn't be required to take that!

Sometimes it never gets to the question stage. So many times we simply assume that something cannot be done by a blind person and never think to stop and investigate or question our assumptions. And we have all been guilty of making this error at one time or another.

This "Back to School" issue of Future Reflections challenges many preconceived notions about blind students in school. The articles cover a wide range of topics; from sports, to art, to Braille and mobility, to socializing, to field trips, to home chores, to vocations, to a pre-school curriculum, to the educable mentally retarded blind child, to...well, you get the picture. These articles challenge us to look critically at our school year expectations for the special blind student in our life. Are our academic standards too low? Are our other expectations too narrow? Have we needlessly discouraged (or simply neglected to encourage) an interest in sports, art, drama, music, home economics, technical education, school politics, debate, speech, language, the foreign exchange program, the dance decorating committee, the yearbook committee, the bird-watchers' club, the parade float committee, the marching band, first-aid training, etc.?

I hope this issue will open your mind to a whole world of possibilities for your blind student or child. After all, if one blind student can do it, why not others? And if blind people can do this, then why not that?

However, possibilities do not become realities without a lot of hard work on everyone's part parents, teachers, students, and often many others. Alternative techniques of blindness need to be learned before they can be applied in school or at home. Furthermore, independence is never possible for any of us (sighted or blind) without the right kind of help and support from others.

But above anything else is the importance of attitudes-which is a good lead-in to the first article in this issue, "On Parenting the Visually Impaired Child."

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