Collaboration Makes All the Difference
by Amira Lucas
Editor’s Note: As parents, teachers, and students jump back in to another academic year, it is important to have strong communication in order to set the student up for success in school. Amira Lucas shares her thoughts on collaborating with her child’s teacher of blind students. Note that school districts use different titles for their teacher of blind students (TBS). To learn about the importance of using “blind,” please refer to President Riccobono’s speech, Language, Action, and Destiny: The Lived Experience of the Organized Blind Movement.
As a parent who is new to the blind community, I believe it is essential to have a strong working relationship with my child’s teacher of blind students (TBS). Learning to navigate the social, emotional, behavioral, and medical challenges that come with raising a blind child can be tough to work through so I believe it is important to have support from someone who is knowledgeable and can provide a hands-on approach. Despite having a professional background in working with individuals with disabilities and special education, I have often felt overwhelmed about understanding all the services and resources available to address my child’s needs. I imagine this will become more complex when my child enters the public education system as challenges may arise with teachers and administrators about how to manage his educational needs. I believe a TBS should develop a strong rapport with me as parent, understand the unique needs of my child based on his functional vision and how that fits within the context of my family and community, and serve as a strong advocate for my child as he faces novel and more complex situations.
To me, one of the most important aspects of the role of a TBS is to develop a strong working relationship with the parents. I believe every good professional relationship begins with a strong relationship of agreement on the goals being addressed, the tasks or interventions being used to reach these goals, and a strong emotional bond or understanding between parties. Navigating the complexities of your blind child living in a sighted world can be very overwhelming. It can be extremely helpful to have someone in your corner who not only knows the system, but also can provide a sense of reassurance and emotional support when figuring out how to move through these circumstances. Having a TBS in my corner who can both understand the system and explain things in plain terms, as well as provide my child with hands on learning is vital to his success. It can be very helpful to me for the TBS to model specific strategies to me when working with my child. This will allow me to witness the process and understand the techniques and strategies used so I can then attempt to implement them on my own both in the home, as well as when interacting with the community.
Every child is unique, and it is important to me that my child develops a strong relationship with his TBS. It is also important to me that my child’s unique needs be implemented into how his services are provided. For our kids to be successful and meet their full potential, it is crucial we all work together as a team because as a team, we can give our kids the support they require and deserve.
If you’re a parent of a blind child and new to the blind community, connect with the National Federation of the Blind in your state affiliate or by joining the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, a proud division of the National Federation of the Blind. If you are a blind parent of a blind or disabled child, also check out the A Blind Parent’s Essential Guide to Effective Communication from Public and Private Schools.