Future Reflections                                                                                      Summer/Fall, 2002

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In This Issue….

Barbara Cheadle, Editor

Barbara Cheadle

The 2002-2003 school year presents parents, students, and teachers with challenging, sometimes even formidable, mountains to climb. Some of these peaks are of the difficult-but-rewarding type of enterprise Cody and Marty sought out and mastered in “Mountains to Climb” (page 2). Others, such as the monumental budget cuts to the Rhode Island programs for blind children (p. 68), are man-made barriers thrown-up by public officials who have much to learn about the capacities of the blind.
    Some of the mountains are individual challenges, other collective. In our collective campaign to conquer the Textbooks on Time peak, we’ve made it to base camp with the introduction of the Instructional Materials Accessibility Act (see page 13). The question that remains is, will the political climate be favorable enough for us to summit with the legislation before Congress adjourns in October, or will the chill generated by the Department of Education set the bill back another year
    Even as we are within sight of vanquishing the “Textbooks on Time” mountain, another one is looming ever larger and ominous on the horizon—the national Braille and O&M teacher shortage. The article on page 30 examines the problem from the perspective of one family and one school district in Maryland.
   Despite the troublesome shortage, we are reminded on page 54 and page 56 of the dedicated teachers in special and regular education who hang in there and work hard to equip our children with the tools they need to surmount life’s challenges.
   
Barbara Matthews, who a year ago wrote about her daughter’s Kindergarten year, continues the saga with “Kyra’s First Grade Year ” (page 5). Despite some steep and rocky inclines, Kyra and her family are subduing their mountains and leaving a well-marked trail for others to follow. On the other end of the educational spectrum, Doctoral student, Cary Supalo, provides some excellent suggestions (page 26) for blind students who are wondering if they can successfully maneuver through a chemistry class.
   
Emilie Schultz (page 20) and Erin Byrne (page 58) demonstrate that with spirit and the right tools, blind students with additional
disabilities can also triumph over obstacles. Sarah Weinstein, a middle school student, provides guidelines for sighted peers and teachers making the trek with her in her article, “What I Prefer” on page 52.
   
Other articles tackle a whole mountain range of topics: technology (page 23), low vision children in the classroom (page 48), early childhood (page  41), IEP’s (page 61), Braille literacy for beginning readers (page 43), and Braille for sighted children (page 10).
   
Finally, we congratulate and celebrate with the students and the schools for the blind that successfully achieved literacy summits in the past year’s 2001-2002 Braille Reader’s Are Leader’s contest (page 36 and 37).
   
It seems to me that the common thread throughout all these articles is one of hope. Whatever obstacles we face, we don’t have to face them alone. When we willingly share the hardships, we also share in the accomplishments and triumph. And individual achievements, properly shared and communicated, are an inspiration and guide to those that follow.

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