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Blind Student Takes Small Engines class in High School Article

Note: I originally wrote this article on March 8, 2011, to be placed in my high school newspaper and teacher’s facebook page. It appears below as is:

Blind Student Makes the Grade in Small Engines Class
By Humberto Avila

Who knew that a blind person can sign up for an elective class that is considered visual?

I am a student at Eisenhower High School in Yakima, Wash. I am currently a fifth-year senior and I have good grades and have a 3.0 and higher GPA. Being a fifth year senior brings in many choices, and more freedom for elective classes. So I chose to try out the Small engines class taught by Mr. Steven Clear, from this school.

Not knowing the curriculum, I managed to raise up the expectations I was having, and now, I am even starting a foundation by making a difference for those blind and visually impaired students who wish to attend the class.

For one of our projects, we had to create a fastener display with all types of bolts and nuts. The display was to include all names printed, and since this was a visual presentation, I wanted to do something about it that blind students can use.

First, I used a Braille typewriter to label all the fastener names in Braille. My paraeducator had to dictate the names to me and then I helped her cutting and pasting for the display.

Next, I have to deal with the challenges of answering questions from a workbook that has graphics that I cannot see. When this comes up, and there are graphics and other figures, my parapro steps in.

Using foam and tactual puffy paint, she helps me draw the graphics and figures the book has, so I can feel what is going on. We put all the print labels in Braille, and the graphic in a format so that I, and perhaps any other blind student, is able to feel.

My goal by doing this is that since blind students can work like their peers, I could have all the information presented to me in a timely manner just like it is to my sighted counterparts. Beyond that, I have developed over the last couple of years a philosophy that blind people can do everything as the sighted in an equal way, given the right opportunity and training. So, for me, showing the other students and teacher these things in class is a way for me to demonstrate that fact.

Furthermore, if another student comes to Clear’s Small Engine’s class, that student won’t have to be left out and will have the same amount of work that the other fellow students have. Since, for example, the labeling of the fastener display is done now in Braille, other student will be able to benefit.

Overall, blind people are no different than everybody else. We are solely normal people who are not able to see, and we can change what it means to be blind.

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