[blindkid] overseas teaching

Rene Harrell rjharrell at gmail.com
Sun Feb 6 16:26:56 UTC 2011


This is classic butt-covering. What they are trying to tell you is that they
have no idea how to meet the needs of a blind child, and they don't want to
be made responsible for doing so. If you were truly interested in pursuing
this job, your response would need to indicate that you are fully aware of
the challenges, and you are willing to assume the full and complete
responsibility for doing so yourself. Essentially, someone in your family
would need to be willing to function as her TVI, ensuring she got
appropriate materials, Braille, and whatever else she'd need, without asking
them to assist in the process. They are correct that overseas schools
legally do not have to accommodate special needs children, period (except
for DoD schools through the military, and even they are allowed to
re-station a child/family if they feel they cannot meet their needs).

So, my response would be geared towards those concerns. They're coming from
a place of ignorance of the needs of an otherwise typical blind child and
their needs. They understand how brutal the rest of the world can be towards
those with disabilities. They have no idea how her needs could be met in a
different setting. So, I would outline very specifically her transition from
China to the U.S., a brief summary of what her needs would be, and I would
spend the bulk of my letter focused on how we, as her parents, would assume
full responsibility for meeting those needs, and then outline a specific
plan on how we would do so (i.e., I would be ordered her braille textbooks
from ________ company; I would be bringing XYZ equipment with us from the
United States and I will be translating all her printed materials to Braille
at home as necessary; we would arrange for adequate O&M lessons throughout
our new neighborhood so that she will have full familiarity of her
surroundings etc. etc.). Basically, figure out what your plan of action
would be to meet her needs, and then share that will them, down to the most
minute details. The more it looks like you have thought this through and
come to a careful, considered opinion, the more they will see your
confidence and planning and realize that not only are you serious, you are
actually prepared. Then, I would make it crystal clear that you don't expect
them to do *anything* for your daughter that they would not do for sighted
children. Nothing. They don't need to worry about her, or assume any
responsibility beyond what they do for each of their "typical" families. See
if that doesn't placate their concerns and move things forward.

If it doesn't, what you will be doing with this is setting it up to a valid
a legal claim of discrimination (if you were to pursue it to that point).
Legally, they are allowed to say they are not equipped to educate a blind
child. If you were asking them to do so, they could legally refuse you. When
you take that responsibility away from them and remove that obligation, then
all they are left with is that they just don't feel comfortable having a
blind child in their organization. They don't have the legal right to say
that--- that is the discrimination, and that is what for which you could
pursue legal re-dress.

Good luck! They may really want to work with you, and just not understand
how. I will hope that is the case!


On Sat, Feb 5, 2011 at 9:20 PM, Joy Orton <ortonsmom at gmail.com> wrote:

> Dear friends,
> We are looking at possibilities for teaching in another country next
> year. In contacting one group that has schools throughout the world,
> we received this response:
> "We so appreciate that you would like to serve with us but I remember
> that we talked last year about the issue of one of your children being
> blind.  That must be such a challenging situation but one that you
> indicated you have successfully dealt with in the States.
> "However, with a move overseas and placing a young child in a country
> she is not familiar with, a language she does not understand and the
> enormous issues of public transportation with a blind child, this
> would be beyond traumatic for her.  This is not something that
> directors could entertain with the many demands on their schedules as
> this would become a very time consuming thing for the director too.
> We just don’t have the staff for special needs like this and foreign
> countries are no friends to anyone with disabilities.  They do not
> have special accommodations at all and often have a very negative, non
> supportive stance on anyone who they consider, not perfect.  It’s very
> sad, but true.
> "So, I regret to say that this is not a situation we’ll be able to
> address.  I do appreciate the interest, so much.  If anything changes
> concerning this situation, I’ll be sure to contact you."
> That was the email I received this evening. Help me with how to
> respond to this, please, friends.
> Our 10 year old daughter is blind. She has no other disabilities and
> no health issues. Her ethnicity is different from ours, because we
> adopted her, at age 4, from another country. She successfully made the
> transition to the US and learned English. Currrently she is one of the
> top three readers in her school, and last year she was our local
> Chamber of Commerce's Citizen of the Year. Her mobility skills are
> excellent and on par with sighted ten year olds.
> What do I say and do in response to this?
> Joy
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