Future Reflections Special Issue, Vol. 14 No. 2

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LET'S TALK ABOUT BLINDNESS

A Special Issue for Children and Youth Editor's Note to Parents and Teachers:

Although we have published a few special issues in the past, none have been quite like this issue. After nearly thirteen years of pumping out articles about blindness for an audience of adults, I've switched gears and put together an issue for the kids. That's right, this issue is designed to be read and enjoyed by kids from about third grade level through high school. The theme, "Let's Talk About Blindness," is, of course, what we do in every issue of Future Reflections. This time, however, we are bringing our message straight to the kids.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to speak directly to the kids about blindness, I was reminded of how difficult it is for adults to remember what it is like to think and feel as children, to remember the freshness of each new experience and the intensity of each new pain. The task I set for myself was complicated by the fact that I am not, nor have I ever been, blind. I am like most of our readers: a sighted adult who is a parent of a blind child. Despite this limitation, I had to--as you must also--decide what and how I was going to communicate with my son about his blindness. Please note that I said "communicate," not talk. Some parents choose never to verbally discuss blindness with their children. Nevertheless, these parents do communicate their feelings about blindness to their children. So, like it or not, prepared or not, parents have no choice in this matter. It happens. Since this is so, we might as well do our best to prepare for it.

From this perspective, I think you will enjoy and receive benefit from this issue as much as your kids. Parents and teachers have the power to turn the one-way message of this issue into a real dialogue about blindness. Read the articles then ask yourself how you would discuss this topic with your child. Sit down with your child and read some of the articles together. Use the articles as a starting point for a discussion with your blind teen-ager. If your child is an infant or toddler save this issue for later use and reference. Use the small window of time you have to consider how you want to discuss these topics with your youngster when he or she is old enough to be curious about them.

The issue is divided into two segments. The first segment is at the reading and maturity level of young children in the elementary grades. The second segment is for the more mature youngster or young adult. Most of the articles in the first segment were contributed by Doris M. Willoughby. Mrs. Willoughby is the co-author of the much-acclaimed Handbook for Itinerant and Resource Teachers of Blind and Visually Impaired Students. She was also the 1990 recipient of the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award. Several of the articles in the second segment are reprints from various Kernel Books. These books are a series of paperback books published by the National Federation of the Blind. The purpose of the books are to try and show readers what it's really like--and, for that matter, what it isn't like--to be blind. These books are available in large print, Braille, and cassette tape for a nominal charge from the Materials Center of the National Federation of the Blind. After reading this issue, you and your youngster may want to order some of the Kernel Book titles for further reading. For a list of titles, contact Materials Center, National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, (410) 659-9314. Calls are accepted between 12:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

You will notice that this issue has been printed in large type (14 point). Some students will find this helpful. However, many students will need a different format for independent reading. As we do with all issues, this one has been recorded on cassette tape. If you do not usually get the tape format, but would like to have this particular issue on tape for your blind child or student, please use the following order form to request a free tape copy. Mail the request to: Future Reflections, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230.

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