Braille Monitor                                               January 2014

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Remembering Adrienne Asch

by Fredric Schroeder

I first met Adrienne in the mid-1980s. Everyone who knew Adrienne knew she was brilliant, but my earliest memories of her were less about her intellect and more about her innate kindness. She was smart—scary smart—but she was more than smart; she used her intellectual gift to make a difference in the lives of blind people and others with disabilities. She brought a penetrating perspective and an unrivaled power of academic thought to bear on the real problems that blind people face—the reasons behind the social isolation and lack of opportunity that plague our lives. She had the ability to unravel complex, interrelated biases and socially constructed limitations and show them for what they are—prejudice. But she gave much more than understanding; she went beyond simply explaining the sources of our collective disenfranchisement. Through her work and through the way she led her life, she demonstrated that blind people need not live in dependency and poverty, but, given a reasonable chance, we can fulfill our innate talents and drive.

This was more liberating than it might first appear. Adrienne’s message, crafted through research, keen observation, and life experience, helped me and countless others truly believe in our own right to live free from society’s low expectations. In other words, she made me proud of who and what I am and showed me that, no matter the barriers placed in our paths, we need not be remarkable or excessively courageous, but need only believe in ourselves to have a full and productive life. And still she was not aloof, living on a higher intellectual plain, residing on the top of Mount Olympus swathed in academic draperies, separate and apart; she was my friend, she believed in me and cared for me, and I will miss her—miss her deeply. Although Adrienne is gone, the difference she made in my life lives on.

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