Future Reflections Fall 1991

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 THE FOURTH GENERATION ON THE MOVE

Reprinted from the June, 1991, Braille Monitor.

From the [Braille Monitor] Editor: Today's young Federationists (those in their

teens and even younger) know where they want to go and how they intend to get

there. They have read Federation literature, attended Federation meetings, and

thought about their future. A good example comes from Pocatello, Idaho, where

four young blind women are enrolled in the local high school.

Betty Sabin, who is President of the Gate City Chapter of the Federation in

Pocatello, sends the following newspaper article. If one reads between the

lines, not only Federation philosophy but also the study and thought which

undergird it are apparent. Here is the article as it appeared in the March 12,

1991, Chieftain, the newspaper of the Pocatello High School:
                           Blind Students Looking For

                               Acceptance At Poky

                                by Christie Dille

     What would you do if your P.E. teacher did not allow you to participate in

class activities? I think that I and most everybody would rejoice at not having

to exercise.

     But what if you weren't allowed because of who you were, or the instructor

thought that you weren't athletic or smart enough, or because they believed you

just could not do it. What if you weren't allowed because you were blind?

     Believe it or not, this type of discrimination occurred at PHS. Three of

four blind students here could verify the story.

     The teacher, however, wasn't being mean or spiteful to the students; most

people that discriminate have good intentions. But it was believed that the

girls could not handle the activity.

     This is an example of the type of thinking these four wish to dispel.

     Merri-beth Sabin, senior; Roxanne Homestead, junior; Jennie Honeycutt,

sophomore; and Christie Sabin, sophomore, are four blind students here at PHS.

They are all involved in school activities.

     Roxanne is a member of Soundsations and sergeant at arms of Junior Civitan;

Merri-beth is Junior Civitan treasurer, Jennie is a member of the band, flute

choir, and Junior Civitan, and Chris would like to be involved in Junior Civitan

and drama.

     These students feel they are just like everyone else, and they don't like

being treated as if their blindness is a disease.

     "Blindness is not a handicap. It's a nuisance." says Roxanne, who is very

friendly and outspoken. However, they believe that most kids don't understand

that.

     "Some people are afraid of your blindness, like they could catch it," says

Merri-beth, who was the first blind student at PHS.

     "People don't know how to accept a cane" says Jennie, "or they think you

bump into them on purpose."

     From the students' point of view most people are scared of or just don't

understand blindness.

     Jennie and Chris agree that some people are amazed at everything they do,

things that sighted people do everyday. These are misconceptions made by people

who think they may understand the handicap.

     Roxanne and Merri-beth agree that students get more open minded as they

become older. However, they state that people still react negatively to their

blindness. When asked if negative reactions made them angry, the two replied

that it makes them angry because people should know better. On the other hand,

it makes them sad when they realize the person has probably been raised in an

environment that fosters misconceptions and negative thinking and because of

that they don't know better.

     Despite this, Chris believes that the majority of the time reactions and

responses are, and have been, positive. Merri-beth says that it's "the best

feeling in the world" to change someone's thoughts and stop prejudices from

beginning.

     As for the future, each of the girls has a career she would like to pursue.

Merri-beth plans on going to ISU Vocational-Technical school to study office

occupations and to become a secretary or medical transcriptionist. Roxanne wants

to become a special education teacher and would also like to have a choir

composed of children with handicaps. Chris would like to pursue the performing

arts and Jennie would like to continue working with the flute, i.e., teaching,

performing, and composing.

     As you can see, they have ambitions just like any sighted person.

     "Don't try to ignore us; we want to be normal and not taken out and put

aside." says Merri-Beth.

     "Don't be afraid to walk up to us and say `Hi'," is how Chris sums up the

general feeling toward being a blind person, if there can be a general feeling

about having any type of handicap.

     Most of us are quick to make prejudgments; just remember that people with

handicaps are really no different than anyone else.
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