Rhoda paused at her locker, just down the hall from the academic counselor's door. She was fully aware of what she was in for. "What ab Don't get worked up about it," she muttered to herself. "Aunt Caroline told you what to expect. Mom said all you need to do is politely stand your ground."
Rhoda unfolded her cane, and casually made her way through the mob of other students. That was the first thing her Dad had taught her: "Don't be ashamed to admit your problems, but don't let them hinder you," he often said.
She made it easily to the counselor's office, where Dr. La Bottomy was waiting.
"Ah, Miss Rhoda Laval," he said with forced enthusiasm. "Have a seat. I've been going over your academic records, and I must say IIm impressed."
"About what?" Rhoda asked.
"You have straight A's across the board, and you've made the National Honor Society."
"So did my brother and sister. I guess work has its rewards."
"Yes, but I am surprised at your score in science," Dr. La Bottomy replied. "Though for that matter, I do have some questions about your career choice."
"Biochemistry research?" Rhoda asked. "What about it?"
"Well, Miss Laval, I am not sure there's much use for a bli...uh, I mean, there's not much money in that field."
"Money isn't the issue, Dr. La Bottomy. My sister Zoe told me that the first consideration is doing something you enjoy. I enjoy science."
"Ah, yes, Zoe," he replied. "I understand she has a nice little business going."
"I'm not interested in business. That's her thing."
"Then how about teaching?" he suggested. "Your Aunt Caroline is an excellent language teacher, despite being blind. I thought you might get into that."
"Actually, my Aunt Caroline inadvertently steered me into science," Rhoda recalled. "I read her Greek and Latin textbooks, while I still could, and realized that science had a lot of Greek and Latin terminology. And here I am!"
"But are you sure you want science research?" Dr. La Bottomy warned. "It's very hard work?"
"My brother J.C. works hard as a baseball player and nutritionist," Rhoda replied. "Nobody promised me a bed of roses, either."
"Well, Rhoda, if you insist."
"I do insist, Dr. La Bottomy. Here is my application to Ocean State University. Please forward it."
Without comment, Rhoda got up and left. As she closed the door behind her, her cell phone rang. It was Aunt Caroline.
"Hey, kiddo!" she said. "How did it go?"
"It was just like you said, Aunt Caroline," Rhoda answered. "He's not thrilled with the idea of a blind scientist."
"Don't sweat it, kiddo," Aunt Caroline replied. "I got the same runaround twenty years ago, when I told him I wanted to be a language teacher."
e-mail responses to email@example.com
**1. Good for Rhoda. Unfortunately, many professionals who should know better, have a tendency to pigeonhole people with disabilities and other minorities , based on their own prejudices and experiences. It seemed to me that Dr. La Bottomy was more concerned about Rhoda's blindness than her academic and interest levels. I can remember that, when I was in high school, my guidance advisor and Rehabilitation counselor said that I really should go into Social Work, because that is a wonderful career for "people like you."
Doug HallDaytona Beach, FL
**2. Good for the young lady standing her ground. It is obvious that she had great support from family. They believed in her and made her believe in herself. My family was that way and I'm thankful for them. She didn't give up. Teachers and counselors need to learn that blind students have the same right to science or math or language or any other career choices as their sighted peers.
**3. It was my lot to grow up at a place and in a time (outskirts of Ft. Worth Texas, 1960's) where people's first question was "Sure, why not?" I lost most of my usable vision in 1960 when I was 11 years old. As long as I continued to perform academically, there were never any barriers. Guess I was lucky. That was a long time ago, and I understand thatthere are well-meaning educational "professionals" who unknowingly deprive blind students of the very tools they will need to survive in the technological workplace. I grew up at the height of the space race, where we tended to think anything was possible. It was a time when excelling at science and math was a good thing -- for me, an equalizer, and I've been using it successfully for almost 50 years now. Maybe we need to think about this, not only as blind people, but as a nation. The world is getting more and more complicated, and we better educate our kids to deal with it. The "Asian Tiger" economies know all about this, and they regularly wax us in science, math and engineering competitions. Time to wise up and make sure that every kid is educated to their abilities, independent of physical limitations. You don't have to have hands, eyes, ears or legs to do science; you need a brain, encouragement and competent teachers.
Mom and Dad are long gone, but I couldn't have done it without them. Here's to you.
**4. Possessing self-confidence in what one wants to do is something that many people don't do, and this is especially true of people with a disability.
I hadn't much use for guidance counselors during my junior high and high school days, and career counselors at the college I'd attended were equally as clueless.
I wanted to go into radio, wanting to be another Don Imus, but, as I found out, that wasn’t meant to be. I did work for a period at a local radio station in Milton, Pennsylvania, where we played the “top forty hits of the Susquehanna valley” from sun up until sun down, and “the best country” on our sister fm facility, 24 hours a day on an automated format.
But, when a guidance counselor says no to anyone, they are usually prepared for a bit of backlash from the people whom they’re counseling. When they say no to an ambitious blind or disabled person, a lot of times, if the person is a self-assured person as was the person in this story, they may Not be crushed. Interesting names, by the way for the story’s participants, especially Rhoda.
And, too, counseling for most of these people is just pushing paper and depending upon stats. So, it didn’t surprise me as to what the outcome of the story was.
However, I think that the key to this whole issue is being realistic about the type of job you wish to secure and then gong after it. Setting too lofty a goal, if one is not the type that is a super achiever, may cause one to be crushed if that goal is constantly out of reach. On the other hand, setting too low an expectation may cause one to end up being an underachiever and languish in the comfort of being mediocre all of their lives.
As for me, I learned that while radio was fun, I wanted to eat, as radio paid a buck 3.80 per week. And, after graduation from college with my BA in English and my minor in History, I worked for the IBM Corporation and performed a secretarial role for them for six months, where upon I went to work for AT&T and stayed there for nearly 24 years and performed various tasks using my communications skills that were a long way from telling time and temperature and introducing old Monkeys records or giving the ball scores. And, no guidance counselor could have predicted that!
**5. If Rhoda believes she will do well as a Biomedical Researcher, if she believes she is capable of a professional science career, if she believes she can keep up with her colleagues, who is to say she cannot? Learning how to be employed at something, however, is much different than actually being able to do the work in that field. In theory, it might work, but what about in practice? d She will have to compete with sighted individuals and prove she is competent and qualified. How will she get to interviews, work, meetings, in services, or workshops? What will happen when she has to be off the job site, perhaps at another facility for a meeting, clinical trial or experiment? As a visually impaired individual, I find transportation my biggest obstacle. Will she be able to conduct clinical trials and experiments without vision? She will require the help and support of many people. What happens when she faces resentment, misunderstanding or hostility? What if she is not taken seriously? She will have to prove herself often and more so than the average person that she is capable. That, in itself, is a formidable job.
Perhaps someone will suggest she buy malpractice insurance. Someone in the NJCBVI recommended that to me recently when I told them I wanted to get back into my nursing career. It implied doubt in my ability. It suggested that I may not be as good as a fully sighted nurse. That came from a source I hoped was going to be supportive and encouraging. Most nurses carry malpractice insurance. It is wise.
Through the NJCBVI, I met a young woman who is a Pediatrician. She lost most of her vision to Retinitis Pigmentosa. She was learning how to live independently at a center. When we talked, she told me how sad she was to have to leave her medical practice. We both felt discouraged and a little frightened at our prospects. Without mentors, we can flounder.
It takes a mighty will to fight for what you want. It can be daunting. Sometimes it feels like you are a blind boxer in a ring with many opponents. You must learn to punch effectively. To learn to pick your battles. That is usually a blind person’s first discovery. Rhoda may have the resolve and will of a fighter. She certainly has a good manager in her Aunt. Rhoda’s mind set will, no doubt, help her reach her goals. That is a good thing because she will encounter lots of Mr. Bottomy’s everyday.
**6. Well, no doubt, the counselor is quite the “knee-jerk jerk” we’ve all encountered at one time or another. But, unlike most TPs, I’m not too fond of this story because of what it leaves out.
It’s great that Rhoda has a positive attitude, but why’s she giving the guy her college application? And why’s she applying to just one school - or are we supposed to realize she’s making multiple applications? Also, what about all those other things colleges look for: extra-curricular, community service, leadership, etc. I’m assuming she’s getting As in all those as well.
Here’s what I think I’m coming to: Blindness isn’t the issue here we all know it is in real life (rl). In rl, this counselor would have messed up with most students for his lack of ability to intuit talent, and to encourage talent, and to look beyond the immediate and the obvious. Her aunt is also going to have to tell her that a high school counselor’s negativity is just the dress rehearsal for more shenanigans to come.
**6. Hi my thoughts on this story are. the guy who she was submitting her application to was showing the kind of ignorance that sighted people show and that forces a lot of blind people to go in to something that maybe they don't want to do. in short he wasn’t encouraging her he was doing the complete opposite discouraging her. she had the balls though to stand up for her self and not let her blindness hinder her from pursuing a career in what she wanted to do. well those are my thoughts.
from Mich Verrier.
**7. Yep. And then she went on to climb all of the world’s tallest mountains all by herself, became a fighter jet pilot, was the first black woman ever to become President of the United States (later to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), brought about world peace, solved the world hunger situation, and found a cure for every affliction ever known to mankind -- except for blindness.
But then, as an NFB member, she knows that blindness has only ever been a slight inconvenience.
I guess it’s nice to dream, and as ye dream, so shall you become.
Yeah. Right. Give me a break.
George Cassell**8. Rhoda missed a golden opportunity to inform the sighted public about the contributions blind persons can make to society. Her comments and responses, in my opinion, are confrontational (and for that matter, almost rude). I would have liked to hear her (or even a sighted person in her position) say things like “thank you for your insight, Mr. La Bottomy” or “I know that things will be difficult, Mr. La Bottomy, but this is really what I want to do and I am sure I can get it done. If not, no one will be to blame but me.”
I recently read a book by a young blind man. The book was autobiographical, and apparently, the young man had “face vision” or whatever it is called. Not all blind people enjoy this attribute. He has been blind since he was a toddler and was blinded by an accident when a run away horse ran over him. The young man claimed he was independent, and never acknowledged that he could not have functioned without the help of family, neighbors, townspeople, instructors, or the state that provided him with readers and equipment to function in the classroom. He was critical of the blind school because they insisted on teaching students to use a white cane. He was very athletic, and performed acts of daring with total disregard of the consequences to himself, or worse yet, to others. His book could have been a beautiful story, giving hope to scores of blind kids, but instead, in my opinion, it encouraged the not so athletic and the otherwise potentially successful blind kids to endanger themselves, rebel and become confrontational, but (again, in my opinion) the most despicable thing I remember about the young man is his bitter complaint that although he had acquired a degree in sports administration, no school district would hire him and he attributed this to his blindness! Could it be that the sports administration jobs are so few that employers pick the brightest and the best for the job, with total disregard to physical limitations?
We have every right to pick a career, but with rights go responsibilities and those we have to accept and not try to blame others for our mistakes.
I feel that each of us, as blind persons, have a responsibility to our community, and we should be careful how we act so that we do not reflect negatively on the rest of the blind populous.
My motto: Try being a diplomat and you will have less chance of being a doormat!
James O. Theall
**9. The only one who will truly determine whether or not Rhoda is following the correct career path is Rhoda. She is no different than any student beginning college. No matter what parents, friends, teachers, or counselors think, the final decision is hers. In the end, her qualifications and potential employers will decide if she chose wisely.
**10. The only one who will truly determine whether or not Rhoda is following the correct career path is Rhoda. She is no different than any student beginning college. No matter what parents, friends, teachers, or counselors think, the final decision is hers. In the end, her qualifications and potential employers will decide if she chose wisely. This is an excellent example of a person taking responsibility for their life instead of allowing it to be run. Although it may appear otherwise, the options are always to either take responsibility or allow another to rule us.
**11. Well, the twist at the end there was interesting. I guess a lot of times it doesn”t have anything to do with blindness, some people are just dream stealers by nature, unhappy with their own lot in life and determined to drag others down with them. Its amazing how many of those types work in fields where they are supposed to be encouraging people. Is it that they are unconsciously drawn into those fields because of a need to make other people as depressed as they are? I don”t know. Whatever it is, it has caused a lot of young people to give up hope I”m sure before they have fairly begun pursuing their dreams. I believe that a just God rules over all this, but wonder how he deals with people like Mr. Lobotomy. ell, the twist at the end there was interesting. I guess a lot of times it doesn”t have anything to do with blindness, some people are just dream stealers by nature, unhappy with their own lot in life and determined to drag others down with them. Its amazing how many of those types work in fields where they are supposed to be encouraging people. Is it that they are unconsciously drawn into those fields because of a need to make other people as depressed as they are? I don”t know. Whatever it is, it has caused a lot of young people to give up hope I”m sure before they have fairly begun pursuing their dreams. I believe that a just God rules over all this, but wonder how he deals with people like Mr. Lobotomy.
**12. A very good story. I think what happens with too many of us blind, is when you are overprotected by parents, and not encouraged to move from that corner bedroom and step beyond that doorway, you miss out on what a real life can be. It takes a lot of guts to finally get up and defy parental overprotection and move on--as in my case, to California in 1980 and back to California from Nevada in 2001, where I was stuck up there because my first sighted husband loved gambling so much, but never loved me. But that’s another story; best not to go into that. When I left an abusive second marriage to go out there again, to the women’s shelter, get back on my own, and stay out there, not to make another tragic mistake, no more relationships with sighted men who are control freaks. I’ve had more than enough of that. And, now, that I have lost a sighted friend after more than eight years of closeness, who brought me back to California, showed me how exciting life can be sometimes, I thought I would never find anything else but a lonely long stretch of sorrow. This is a hard year for me. I have no family, so it’s a lot harder for me. What family I had wouldn’t give you the time of day; I’ve been out of touch for years. I’ve been discouraged from learning to use the Optacon in the 1970’s. The blind Rehab counselor was an old fuddy-duddy I could not stand. He did not like it because I refused to work in a sheltered workshop. I wanted to do something else. He refused me services. I left Illinois because of that and other reasons I won’t go into here. I finally learned to use an Optacon in 1994. I knew all along I could do it; I have known my print letters from little on. If you believe you can do something, don’t let some old fuddy-duddy talk you out of it. If it turns out you cannot do what you set out to do, and you prove it to yourself, well, then ... you will find it out whether or not you can. These people who think they know you don’t know you. They are the ones who would not do it themselves so they go and discourage others instead. I don’t have any use for people who tell me not to walk around outside. If I did not step out at all, how much would not get done that needs to be done? I know one blind lady whose sighted partner won’t even let her write her own Braille letters anymore. That’s sick. She won’t let her talk for herself, and she is capable of speaking. And so on.
Mimi, Sacramento, California
**13. Counselor and other try to put you in a peg. They think you cannot do this and that the sight people do. I am kind of like the Indian have you walk a mile in my shoe. The sight people believe we cannot do what we do sometime. Even after we show them we can they still not run into this problem every day of my life. So you kept right on trucking down the road.
**14. Ah to follow the leader? I think one's career choice is there own, and we shouldn't listen to other's telling us what we should choose.
As with the main character in the ending, the aunt calls:***
"Hey, kiddo!" she said. "How did it go?"
"It was just like you said, Aunt Caroline," Rhoda answered. "He's not thrilled with the idea of a blind scientist."
"Donn't sweat it, kiddo," Aunt Caroline replied. "I got the same runaround twenty years ago, when I told him I wanted to be a language teacher."***
This, to me, shows that the choice of career is one own's choosing that you don't have to follow what someone is telling you to choose. That you don't have to Hfollow the leader.
Member of NFBGA,
Board Member NFB Writers Division
This girl shows determination and the will to succeed despite the odds. The counselor represents the uneducated community. Although I’d like to comment on his idiocy having already dealt with a successful blind individual, and now dealing with a relative of that one. You’d have thought he learned his lesson the first time? Guess not though. This young lady showed her willingness to go the extra mile to change what it means to be blind in the eyes of this figure of superiority. She is determined to show that she can do whatever it takes, even work hard. Imagine that, blind people working hard? Who would've thought of that?
*rolls eyes again*
Sometimes I think that sighted people need to actually use their eyes and see the bigger picture.
Aziza NFB Writers' Division mailing list
**16. it is a funny thing. I wasn't going to comment on Robert's last Thought Provoker, beyond the reference to the counselor's name. But then reading Aziza and Angela discussing that kind of "counselor" discourager, I remembered something.
I had just started at community college, it wasn't more than my second semester, and I had college algebra, was having a hard time; the class was at 8a.m.!
a couple months into the semester, I met with the teacher, discussing the class materials, trying to get at stuff that had been on the board, etc., Dr. Schwellenbach and I finished, and we were talking.
He had earned his doctorate at Stanford. I said "I want to earn at least a Masters degree at Stanford." to which he replied: "You won't. Someone like you can't. So, don't even try." he didn't refer to my blindness, but his tone was suddenly very cold and foreboding.
well, I didn't get to Stanford, but the M.A. after my name is from Kansas University, and I completed a practicum successfully too.
I realized that this very painful memory wasn't so current in my thoughts, until I was walking my dog and thinking about recent posts to the list.
Jim Canaday M.A. Laawrence, KS
**17. One question I have is why she went through the counselor when she had made her career choice and knew he wouldn't like it rather than just forwarding the application on to the college herself. I am pleased, however, that she stood her ground.
Nancy Coffman Lincoln Nebraska
**18. It is often difficult for a young person to decide if his or her dreams are realistic. My adopted blind son loved to play basketball in our driveway. When he was a freshman in high school he wanted to play football. I supported him because he was very physical, and said that it was the only time he could run hard and knock in to people and not have to apologize. However, I told him that his dreams of playing basketball for the Portland Trail Blazers was probably not going to happen because he was going to be lucky to top five foot six and would be too short. I encouraged him to look at his talents and what he was truly good at in making his career choices. Currently I am helping my daughter raise her three children. The youngest wants to be a rock star. She loves to dress up and be the center of attention, but to be a successful performer, she will also need talent, discipline and luck. She is a seven year old fully sighted fan of Hannah Montana. I somehow suspect she will discover that music isn’t in her future. Wanting something, is only the beginning. Then comes a game plan that breaks reaching the goal down in to small steps working toward achieving it. Dreams can come true, despite the odds but only with a lot of work and determination. The girl in this story has set her goal high, but getting in to college is her first step. Letting an academic advisor stop her before she ever tries would be wrong. Lucky for her she has a lot of support from the people who matter to her.
**19. Dan is right, but I can just picture the terminology used by the guidance counselor when he talks to others, can’t you?
“She'll never make it, Whoever heard of a blind chemical engineer?”
Darla J. Rogers, B.A., M.S.
**20. People often choose the wrong career path in life. I did by going to law school, as I ended up hating it. Hard as it is, I'm glad I'm out of the legal profession in general, even if I don't know all the time what I'sm going to do next. Ideally I guess I'd like to write or be a fulltime musician, and in many ways I'm working toward that goal, a little later on in life than I would have preferred.
I think Ms. Quietwater (Resp. 18) hit the nail on the head if I can paraphrase, which is that the support of others where your personal endeavors are concerned is an invaluable tool, especially when you need it to counteract the negativity represented by this career counselor.
As for Mr. Cassell's comments (Resp. #7), again our heroine here may find she doesn't have what it takes, but she won't know if she listens to others and fails absolutely to make the effort. Besides, there are certain precedents at play here. To wit, let Rhoda try and climb the mountains. A blind person has already climbed Mt. Everest, which is more than I, as the blind writer of these comments, intend to do. Let her run for and become the first black president and be a chief justice of the Supreme Court. We've already had two black justices, and I'd wager that no one in their right mind could have foreseen that in the wake of the King assassination in 1968, we'd have two black secretaries of state, one of whom was a woman. William Howard Taft was once president, but he was later appointed chief justice. Not sure if she can be a fighter pilot, but okay, let her try if she might be able to and technology has advanced enough for her to reach her goal. I'm all for solving the world's hunger problem and promoting peace, and if she can find solutions to all humankind's most worrisome problems and she happens to find a “cure” for blindness, all the more power to her. I don't necessarily want to see, but I've certainly met my share of formerly sighted people who haven't done the blindness gig very well such that restoration of sight may be a better option for them under the circumstances.
Finally, to the extent that any of this adheres or departs from NFB philosophy, let us count our blessings that the Federation has fought so hard for the achievements blind people have had since 1940. The NFB may push the envelope on what may be acceptable for blind people to do, but that's certainly better than simply choosing to live our lives pursuant to the negative expectations of others. f In short, I say let Rhoda do what she would with her life. To put a different spin and slightly different lyrics on an old song, “Let her run, let her fall, let her cry.”
John D. Coveleski Minneapolis, MN
**22. Reading the other responses to this months provoker makes me realize I do have some thoughts on this subject. I think the comment by one reader that we are not all the same is certainly true, and anyone in the therapy business supposedly trained to interact with people, should know better than to project the same set of feelings on all his/her patients. However, I have 2 observations: First, giving this therapist the benefit of the doubt, therapists are usually trained to feel out a patient by asking certain leading questions -- not to force anything on the patient, but rather to feel the patient out and see if the question triggers some helpful response. The therapist in this story may have been doing this, although reading the whole story I got the impression that this therapist was getting impatient and overly anxious to pin the patient down on the anger issue. Second, on a different issue, sometimes blind people are the ones with prejudices against disability and not the people around them. I say this as a middle aged blind person who had to admit after years of denial that I had been prejudiced about my disabilities (plural--I am also disabled). On one hand this motivated me to accomplish a lot of things in my life against the odds, but after several decades of burning the candle at both ends, I reached a point where I had to take a hard look at myself and pull back and change my focus a bit. I don't regret charging ahead and doing things when I was young -- everyone does that, blind or not -- but if a therapist had interviewed me at an earlier age and helped me work out some of the fire I was directing at myself, I think I would have been better off. So those are my thoughts.
**23. I am Karen Crowder, and upon reading this story, all I could think was “not much has changed in the eyes of “professionals.” It is distressing that that blind adolescents meet resistance when it comes to choosing a career that they will be happy in. This girl had the courage and belief in her self to stand up to the counselors, and stand her ground. I do hope more teens and young adults do that and do not buy in to a subscribed career path.
Thirty five years ago when I was a young adult, I tried to follow a subscribed career path, typing and transcription. While good for some people it just was not for me I had always wanted to attend college and finally did but not with the state's blessing. I wanted to write and did in my spare time, but many told me there was no money in that.
Now as an older adult I am finally following my dream and find my self happier for it. I do hope this young girl will succeed I know she will. She has a blind aunt and siblings who believe in her. but most important she believes in her self That is the core of being successful, at what ever you do, believe in your dreams “and do not let any one talk you out of your chosen path in life.”
friend ship Karen Crowder.
**24. Back in my high school in East Troy, Wisconsin, when I asked for the class as an elective, I was told by the counselor, Mr. Cotter, I should not take drafting class because, get this reasoning now, ”only boys were in the class.” I believed what he was telling me, in-between the lines, was that the teacher would not want me and the boys would make fun of me taking a "boy's subject” and therefore I would not be allowed to take the class. I did not know then that I could have insisted on the class and so did not get the class in drafting. Over the years, by reading magazines and seeing the end results of those who did get training, I've taught myself some of the methods used by those who draw house plans and plans of 3-D objects. Wonder if I'd be in another line of work if I'd taken that class back then?
FROM ME: This lady is fully sighted.
**25. I am glad that she stuck up for what she believes. I was discouraged by someone in the N.J. Commission for the blind because they didn't think I could become a massage therapist because of all of the work involved but I kept on pressing the issue. I am retaking too classes because I failed them but I am getting lots of support from my classmates and friends and client's I practice on. Yes it is challenging and a lot of hard work but like the girl in the story if we don't get the chance to go to school for what we want to do how are we going to know for sure if we can even handle the responsibilities of the job we want? I new that it was going to be hard before I even started.
Rania Ismail N.J.
**26. " Yep. And then she went on to climb all of the world’s tallest mountains all by herself, became a fighter jet pilot, was the first black woman ever to become President of the United States (later to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), brought about world peace, solved the world hunger situation, and found a cure for every affliction ever known to mankind -- except for blindness.
But then, as an NFB member, she knows that blindness has only ever been a slight inconvenience. I guess it’s nice to dream, and as ye dream, so shall you become.Yeah. Right. Give me a break."
I was floored when I read that. I just feel it prudent to remind all of you that there have been several blind lawyers and government officials in the past (including New York's own Governor. This election cycle has seen a woman and a black man run for President. We have plenty of blind scientists. We have even heard of blind people flying planes. While we've not yet heard of fighter jet pilots, we do know about blind race car drivers (which has a similar amount of daring attached to it). We have blind people in all kinds of organizations fighting world hunger and assisting in the medical field. I've heard of blind people in organizations for world peace. And of course, we do have a blind mountain climber. So, it's not too unreasonable to think that a blind woman (let alone any blind person) couldn't live such a life. Could she do it alone? No, probably not. But no one, sighted or blind, does these things alone. It's been said that great people stand on the shoulders of even greater support systems (including friends, family, and membership organizations like the NFB).
While most of us will never aspire to such a life outlined above (and most sighted people won't either), it is important to know that these things truly are possible, and that our inability to believe that they can is really what stops us. In essence, the quote above suggests a pie-in-the-sky fantasy. but I believe that we're not that far from making that fantasy a reality. If we decide that some career is a pie-in-the-sky ideal, how far are we willing to take that philosophy? Are there blind people who don't meet their goals? yes. Are there blind people who build too loftily? Yes. But this is also true of the sighted. The blind person in question may not have all of the skills he needs to make it (including the necessary blindness skills for that field). But that's true of sighted people, too. And it doesn't sound like that's our girl's problem. It sounds like she has all of the skills she needs to get started on what could be an excellent career choice.
**27. I'd tell Roda to listen to her heart and do what her intuition tells her to choose as a career and not let others influence her decision; her positive attitude and perseverance as seen in the story to become a Biomedical graduate will do tons of good in helping her achieve her goal, especially with positive role models as her Aunt who I'd like to imagine is also blind, though it didn't say in the story. Especially for the days when she feels down or begins to doubt her career path due to professors and/or peers questioning her abilities as a future blind Biomedical graduate, I'd give her for these occasions a visualization exercise in which she "sees" herself as actually working in her chosen field. Lastly I'd suggest she network and seek out other blind people already working (or studying) in her field of choice; who knows if an alternative technique Roda might not have known before may surface from these exchanges!
I'd like to ask a question that comes to mind in reading and responding to this TP: How many of you sacrificed your true vocation just because sighted counselors, teachers and family "thought" that sight is indispensable for certain careers? Who would think that it'd be possible to be a blind evolutionary Biologist or a blind doctor if it wasn't for the perseverance of Gerrat Vermeij and Jacob Boletin respectively? Also, how many of you are frustrated because of instead of following your guts, you chose a blind-friendly career just to satisfy sighted peers and teachers when your real vocation wasn't being a lawyer or Psychologist rather something "impossible"" from a blindness perspective? Also , how many of you accidentally got back on the path of your real vocation by chance due to meeting people who actually believe in our abilities and who encourage us to take courses that would allow us to not be what we really wanted to be in the first place, but that would allow you to work in more or less your true vocational goal?
As my final message for any of you out there in the situation above, keep positive, perform the visualization exercise described above and give Rhonda Birmes documentary The Secret a viewing; you won't regret the nearly two hours the film lasts.
Gerardo; Tampico, Mexico
**28. Lots of food for discussion here. Young people are often intimidated by persons in positions of authority. Even some of us who are not so young can be rocked back on our heels when we are not sure of who we are. It is critical that young, and newly blinded people receive the kind of education that this young student received from her aunt Caroline.
When I hear blind people say, "I'm tired of having to be an example", or, "Why do I have to be the teacher?" I remind them that if they do not set the example or offer to teach those newly blinded folks, then they are literally throwing them to the wolves.
Carl Jarvis ACB-L listserv
**29. This one hits home with me. At age 19, I entered Tennessee Tech. with the full intention of majoring in physics, but when I showed up in the office of the head of the department, Dr. Bruce asked me to look at a slide rule and tell him what I saw. While I had travel vision, I could not begin to read a slide rule. Dr. Bruce simply told me that since I could not read the slide rule, then I should not even try to major in physics, as that was a basic requirement. I then wondered over to the pre-law program, where I was greeted with the statement, that they could not imagine why anyone would want to hire a blind lawyer, but they would let me take the course if I insisted. I later took the freshman level physics courses and scored one hundred on all tests. If I had it to do over, I would have tried the physics rout, but that was 1962 and I was a bashful unassertive young man.
Ps. I am now forty years in the practice of law, and my clients are faithful.TOP OF PAGE