[blindkid] can I get the other side?

Dr. Joseph Taboada jtaboada at vetmed.lsu.edu
Thu Feb 26 17:09:05 UTC 2009


Kudos for pushing forward and learning the Braille code.  We found it very
helpful when Michael was first learning Braille.  It became less useful as
Michael charged past us and knew much more about the code than we did
(probably when he was about 7) and I have to sheepishly admit that I have
forgotten most of now that he is almost 16.  Sandy kept up much longer than
I did.  I was interested in your comment about being able to recognize about
half of the letters by touch and remember when Sandy made a similar comment
to a blind Braille user at an NFB meeting many years ago.  Sandy knew the
code by sight but was having trouble recognizing the characters by feel.
This individual thought about her progress and asked her if she could see.
When she said yes he kind of incredulously asked why she was so worried
about feeling it if she could read it by sight.  That one comment gave us
permission to worry less about how we acquired the information and more
about actually reading the Braille.  A lesson that I have tried to carry
forward in lots of things that we do with Michael.


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Joseph Taboada, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM
Professor; Small Animal Internal Medicine and 
Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs
School of Veterinary Medicine
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA  70803-8410

225 578-9537 (phone)
225 578-9546 (fax)

-----Original Message-----
From: blindkid-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:blindkid-bounces at nfbnet.org] On
Behalf Of Leah
Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2009 9:01 AM
To: blindkid at nfbnet.org
Cc: leah at somazen.com
Subject: Re: [blindkid] can I get the other side?

Carrie and Bonnie, thank you for replying. That press release is kind  
of what I was looking for.

I know I have mentioned this before, but I hear the NFB criticized so  
by people in my area. I am always trying to understand what it is like  
out there, where the resources are, what is the position of the  
different institutions and resources, etc.  There is no local chapter  
of NOPBC in our city.

People tell me that folks from the NFB never let their cane out of  
their hand and force their kids to be like that. People complain that  
the local rehab center will only teach things one way - the "NFB way"  
and that they aren't exposing clients to alternatives. I don't know  
about the rehab program, but I know that I didn't see any cane  
extremists at the state convention we attended. I saw plenty of blind  
people walking across the room without their canes if they chose to,  
and holding print up by their face to see if if they chose to. I also  
saw them organizing an enormous, inspiring and useful event using  
whatever means worked, because doing it was important. I have read  
Carrie's story about trying to get an older child to try, just try the  
cane. I have a lot of objections to force, and I didn't see that story  
as "forcing."

On the other hand, we have a TVI who has to look on a chart while she  
is teaching my son his Braille letters. She personally doesn't believe  
that he needs Braille because he has a lot of vision, but she wants to  
support our wishes. She comes out every week and works those Braille  
letters with him and maintains an open dialogue as much as possible.  
When she taught blind kids for the past several years she never had to  
use Braille, and still doesn't have any Braille kids in a new teaching  

I just wonder, if my son lives long, or stays in good enough health to  
go to school, and if he becomes a skilled enough reader to need the  
convenience of Braille, who is going to be there making materials for  
him, who is going to be double-checking the Braille quality or helping  
him with a formatting issue in a text book? The NFB philosophy seems  
pretty straightforward to me, but when I sit in my local environment,  
I feel as though I have joined some fringe ultra-conservative religion  
just because I think Braille sounds practical. (The good news is, I  
can identify about half of my Braille alphabet by feel now!)

Can the challenges of life really polarize people so much? I guess so.  
I tend to be naive, and want diplomacy and for sides to work together  
for communication and sharing of what does work. I see the anger at  
the challenge of blindness, wrongly directed at "the other side."  
Isn't the anger really about the frustration of the inconvenience of  
blindness, the difficulty interacting with a world that doesn't  
understand, and the extra medical problems?

I think I have a lot to learn. I just hope that I will develop a tiny  
bit of patience and ability to clearly communicate with others along  
the way as I raise my son.

I'm not trying to complain, just put out my thoughts that resulted  
from reading about the case. I think, as a parent of a still-young  
child, that I still have so much hope when talking to professionals of  
all sorts, and that I haven't quite shifted the authority to myself as  
parent yet. Sometimes I wish someone else would fix it all, and  
sometimes I try to fix it all. I'll bet that maybe the extra energy  
for communication and teambuilding might come from letting go of  
trying to fix...but that is not really the topic of this list. I'm so  
impressed by the maturity and communication ability of people on this  

Anyway, thanks again for the comments.

mom to John, 4, who has visual impairment and severe eye movement  
limitations, with multiple other issues, and who is super-smart and  
learned to talk this winter!

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