Friday, August 31, 2012

The last few days

I wanted to share that its been a crazy last few days.  The last blog about the musuem visit. spured a front page story on the newspaper which spouted two telivision news stories. There is also two stories on internet site The Stir and on Huffington Post.

I will try and post more but the Huffington Post article has links to most of the stories.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cane Denied : When a good policy fails.

A public place can make their location accessible to people with disabilities with an accessible building and policies and still fail if employees are not educated properly. This is a lesson I learned today.

Monday the kids went with Chris (their father for those trying to keep up) to a local museum.  He was told at the desk that she couldn't bring her cane into the museum.  He told the woman at the desk that Abby was blind and was told "We have had issues with kids in the past". Chris was shocked but honestly didn't know Abby using her cane is protected by the American with Disabilities Act. (also the state has a White Cane Law) He also didn't want to make a scene.  The kids were excited so he paid the admission and passed over the cane to person beyond the desk.
Its a white cane not a switch blade. (alt text: Abby holding her cane, smiling with a water fountain in teh background)

First.  Perhaps she didn't hear when Chris said Abby was blind. Lets decide for just this argument she didn't hear him. The issue is regardless what did she think it was?  Who are these kids she spoke of?  I envision an ninja army of blind children with white canes trashing the museum.

We have already gotten an apology and I belive it was genuine but I am very concerned it may happen again. No one should ever have to through what happened to my family.

The issue is that it happened and that can never be changed. The experience is now part of our family's story.

It happened to Abby when she was told her independence and safety is not important. That she thought it was legal for someone to be 'mean' to her because she has a disability.  She had to depend on her father for mobility and felt very unsafe on the stairs.  It  happened to Sam (Abby's brother )  It was suppose to be a something special for Sam.  It was his pick to go there.  Instead his sister had to be attached to Dad and it didn't seem so special anymore.  Sam also complained of nausea only few minutes after they entered which resulted in me picking him up. He was 100% better 15 minutes later. I suspect Sam had anxiety over the cane issue and losing his special day.
Canes are cool ! All the cool kids use them. (alt text: Abby with her long white cane wearing sun glasses with a purple shirt that says "star bright starlight" and a pink puffy skirt.)

Its very important that all parents and caregivers understand about their children's rights.  I personally feel I failed my family without educating them enough on this issue.  I am educated I know Abby's rights in this area.  I would have pushed the issue. When I found out I acted right away.   Its a balance to when is the right time to to complain and push an issue or keep quiet and stew. This was a time to act.    I bet some of you are thinking Chris could have pushed the issue more and that he should have known. If you know Chris you will understand he didn't know. He knew it was rude. He felt it wasn't right.  He trusted that the museum can tell his daughter she can't bring her cane in. Its a public place they should know the law.  He is right. They should.

This isn't a common issue,  it happens more often sadly with guide dogs not canes..  I now know it does happen.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Why Abby reads Braille.

Abby is a Braille reader and writer.  She can read now because of Braille.

I was an adjustment when Abby became a Braille reader but that was just because it was very new and I didn't understand Braille at all.
There is many reason why Abby read Braille. The simplest reason is she is blind and its the most effective way  for almost all blind people to read.
She also reads braille because she can't see print or standard large print at all. She can't see what she writes. Abby would have to use magnification tools far beyond what is practical just to be able to see print.  Just because a blind student can see a little bit of print doesn't mean that print is the best medium for them.  Braille is best for Abby. Braille is best for a lot of students who are blind even if they have some remaining vision.  We never had to fight for Abby to get braille because she has a great teacher.  I know many parents who have struggle to get any braille instruction for their blind children much less an appropriate amount.

Reasons why Braille is great...

  • solves visual fatigue
  • its cool
  • you can read in the dark with it 
  • a blind person has a greater chance of being employed if they read braille
  • you can read and write braille on the computer and iPad (with additional equipment) 
What Braille is NOT
  • a different language (its just the tactile version of print)
  • hard to learn
  • obsolete or out of date
What about technology like audio books and text to speech?
  • listening isn't reading or literacy
  • you don't learn spelling or sentence structure 
  • Would you have a sighted child not read?
  • audio books and text to speech are tools but they don't replace reading
In the most recent Future Reflections a story of mine was published about how important a positive view point of braille is. Let know what you think. 

National Federation of the Blind 

"A Matter of Justice:Our Fight to Obtain Braille Instruction" by Holly Miller

"Why Are You Trying To Make That Child Blind? by Carol Castellano"  (text file)