Braille Monitor                                                                               February 1986



A Parent Speaks

It is often difficult to be objective about the value of the work you yourself do. It is almost standard practice for anyone who conducts a conference, writes a book, or makes a speech to believe (whether or not the thought is verbalized) that whatever it is will either save the world or at an absolute minimum be of great benefit to mankind for several generations. Therefore, it is helpful when a disinterested party gives an unsolicited evaluation. It provides an indicator of the value of other activities and services for which no such commentary is available.

On October 12, 1985, the National Federation of the Blind conducted a seminar for parents of blind children. The meeting was held at the National Center for the Blind in Baltimore. The following letter speaks for itself:

Takoma Park, Maryland
October 18, 1985

Dear Mrs. Cheadle:

I am writing to thank you for the Seminar for Parents and Educators of Blind Children. I apologize for our somewhat unceremonious departure, but we had to get back to Washington. Please would you thank all the participants on our behalf. It was very encouraging for us to meet so many confident, competent, and lively people, and I hope that our daughter will grow up with these same attributes.

We are still grappling with the fact that our four-year-old is blind and have not yet reached the point where we ourselves can regard her blindness as a mere "nuisance," although we are trying to encourage that attitude in her. The process of adjustment for us as parents is a painful and ongoing one--it is only recently that I have been able to say that my daughter is "blind" rather than using a euphemism.

I hope that I do not judge people by the stereotypes described by so many of the conference participants and, indeed, as far as my child is concerned, I have always regarded her as an intelligent and competent individual capable of achieving whatever she wants to achieve. It was nice to see living adult proof of this belief!

The speaker from the State Department of Education was particularly helpful, especially on the vexed subject of the IEP, as were Sharon Maneki and Maria Miller. We have now contacted our daughter's school about mobility instruction, and miraculously, they will provide forty-five minutes twice a week, on paper at least! We shall see!

Thank you again, and our thanks to all the participants and to the people who so kindly gave up their time to look after Olivia. We are grateful for all the hard work that went into the conference, and for all that the NFB is doing to make a better future for our daughter and her generation.