Future Reflections Spring/Summer 1994, Vol. 13 No. 2

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AN AVERAGE AMERICAN
by Nancy Martin

[PICTURE] Nancy Martin

From the Editor: The average blind person is able to perform the average job in the average career or calling, provided he or she is given training and opportunity. This is one variation of a phrase commonly used by the National Federation of the Blind to describe our philosophy about blindness. Possibly the one part of that credo that arouses the most skepticism among members of the public-including parents of blind children and the blind themselves-is the part about the average person. Can the truly average blind person really have a complete, full, normal, and successful life? Nancy Martin believes-no, she knows-it's true! Here are the remarks Mrs. Martin delivered this past winter to a seminar for parents sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind of Washington:

Most blind people who are presented as role models are exceptional and highly accomplished people such as lawyers, physicists, or entertainment stars. I have been asked to give a talk because I represent the average American blind person. I am not a rocket scientist. I am a housewife.

I got off to a slow start as a kid. Born three months prematurely I did not walk until the age of three, was not potty trained until the age of four, was in kindergarten for three years, and started first grade at the age of eight. While my slow development was no doubt discouraging for my parents, I eventually picked up steam and took off. 

Today, I am looking for work as a trained medical transcriptionist. I am an amateur musician on several instruments and play all types of music from classical piano to old-time folk music. I am an officer in my Federation chapter. I love to go canoeing and backpacking with my husband, and I am currently helping a blind person develop mobility skills. 

The point of my story is that even without support groups my parents were able to get me through a difficult childhood. So don't be discouraged with your kids. My parents were lucky to get support from other family members. For example, my grandfather took me for nature walks, showed me the local train yards, and exposed me to other stimulating experiences. He even had a policeman friend of his lock me in a jail cell so I could see what it was like. He got me over my fear of electric lawn mowers with their spitting grass and noise. 

When I was a resident at the school for a while, Mrs. Woodworth was one of the house parents in the girls' dorm. She loved us and hugged us and filled in for mom. She exposed us to farm animals, took us to the zoo, and gave us the hands-on experiences that are so important to blind children.

Now, in 1994, thanks to groups like the National Federation of the Blind and the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, children and their parents have role models and much more support available. I want to use my membership in the NFB to help other blind people and parents of blind children realize that you don't have to walk on the moon to live a full and productive life. It is respectable to be blind. 

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