Future Reflections        Convention Issue 2013

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Kids for Independence!

by Anna Walker and Ethan Solano

From the Editor: At the NFB convention, parents and teachers hear a great deal about ways to help blind children move toward independence. During the NOPBC board meeting, middle school students Anna Walker of Pennsylvania and Ethan Solano of Missouri explained precisely what independence means to them.

Anna WalkerAnna Walker: One Saturday morning I got up and decided to walk around the neighborhood. When I went downstairs to breakfast, my mom said that we were out of yogurt, and I would have to wait until she went out and bought some from the local grocery store. Then, with all the training I got from her, I said, "May I go on a walk?" She thought that just meant a walk around the neighborhood, but I walked to the store.

On my way there a woman stopped me and asked if I was okay. She didn't think that a blind girl should be walking around on her own. I said, "I'm fine, I'm not lost, get out of my face." [Laughter]

When I got to the store and was picking out my favorite yogurt, a man grabbed my arm. I turned around, and he said very slowly, "Can--you--hear--me? I--want--to--help--you!" [Laughter]

I said, "Don't grab blind people by the arm! We are perfectly fine! Please get out of my face!"

I finished my shopping and walked back home. Mom scolded me. She said, "I told you you could go on a walk!"

I said, "I did go on a walk. I just didn't go where you thought I should go."

She said, "Okay. At least you got yogurt. But when you say walk, I mean around the neighborhood."

I said, "When I say walk, I mean walk!"

Ethan Solano and his brother, Roman, at the NOPBC Fashion ShowEthan Solano: Hello. My name is Ethan Solano. I am twelve years old. I live in Willow Springs, Missouri.

I am here today to talk about no limits. First of all, I don't even know why I am here to talk about this. Why shouldn't I be able to do all the things other kids do? But since I'm here, I might as well fill up my time.

I think giving limits is stupid, not just for blind people but for anybody. After all, my mom is short, but she can still do things--well, most things. She can't always open pickle jars without my brother's help. But more seriously, I don't understand limits because I do lots of things. I do swim team. I also play the violin. I play soccer with my brother. If I had limits I couldn't do the things I enjoy.

There are only a few things I'd like having limits on, like chores. But sadly, it doesn't work that way. I guess I can't have it both ways. I can't have no limits in doing things I like and have limits in chores.

Some of the horrible things I'm forced to do are doing dishes--and I don't mean a dishwasher, but hands in hot water scrubbing all day kind of dishwashing. My mom says a dishwasher uses too much water and electricity. I also have to clean my room and bathroom, collect eggs from our chickens, and much more.

People think we need limits because we can't see. I have a lot of vision compared to most blind people, but I'm probably going to lose it farther down the road. I can still do the things I love to do. If there's a will there's a way. We just have to do things differently. For example, Braille music, JAWS, Siri (which is my personal favorite), a cane, and a talking clock are just a few items that make things accessible. It takes time to learn to use them, but it takes time to learn anything.

One of the best ways to learn these things is to go to an NFB summer program like the one I'm going to in Louisiana this summer. One of the best things about these summer programs is that you get, get, get away from your parents! The reason I say get three times is because it's the best part of going.

Thank you for forcing me to speak. I know you all love me and want to take me home with you. But sadly, my mom has plans for me so horrible they should not be spoken of.

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