In 2016, when we decided to start homeschooling our boys, never one time did I think I would get asked the question, “How can you homeschool blind?” There were tons of other questions I anticipated, and I’ve been asked many of those as well. The common questions about social skills, grade cards, testing and college. Never once did I anticipate the question about homeschooling blind. Yet, this is the most common question and it gets asked at almost every conversation where we reveal we are a homeschool family. In some cases this question is asked because there is an assumption that a blind person is incompetent, lacking the ability to do what a sighted person can do.
I think more often the question is asked simply out of curiosity. After all, teaching requires you to read books and grade papers, how can one do that without sight? If you’re interested, you can check out where our homeschooling journey began here.
I flat out refuse to allow blindness to define me. I refuse to allow blindness to keep me from doing life the way I want to do life. I absolutely refuse to allow blindness to be an excuse for anything. Ok, to be honest, and because I know my husband will read this, I do use the “blind card” so I don’t have to match that huge basket of unmatched socks! And don’t even judge me, because you know you would do the same thing!
The 3 Must Haves for this Blind Homeschooling Mom:
This is it right here, a real and evident characteristic of who I am. I am convinced that tenacity was weaved into my very being giving me the drive to overcome the inconvenience of being blind. Synonyms for tenacity are persistence, determination, perseverance, strength of will, patience, purposefulness. Are you getting the picture yet, I just won’t quit.! Where there is a will, there is a way! If I’m ever told I cannot do something, well, that tenacious part of me rises up and I find a way!
Modern technology has and continues to open doors and make simple everyday life activities accessible to the blind. Any type of printed material; books, newspapers, magazines are all available to me in a digital format. With a flick of my finger on my iPhone I can be reading the just released novel by my favorite author or can be flipping through today’s copy of USA Today. Instead of using my eyes to read the pages, I listen to the words being spoken.When I am choosing curriculum I first check to be sure that I can also get the materials in a digital format. In most cases I can order the digital download directly from the seller or publisher. This allows me to navigate the text book, workbook or teacher guide using my computer’s Voiceover, the accessibility feature that speaks what is on the screen. And from there I can plan lessons and teach just as any sighted person.If I come across any printed material that I cannot get from the seller or publisher in a digital form, I can then request it from one of the following:
- The Library of Congress for the Disabled and Visually Impaired – This is a digital library offered by our federal government that makes books, magazines and newspapers available in a digital format.
- Bookshare – This is my favorite place to get books and any other types of reading materials. You have to be visually impaired or have a disability that makes reading difficult to become a member of Bookshare and there is a yearly fee of $50. With my Bookshare membership I can download books directly to my iPhone using the VoiceDream Reader App.
- And finally, if I come across any printed material that I just have to have I can easily just scan it into my computer. Then convert it to a PDF document that can be read by my computer or phones text reader. I can also scan any documents or completed assignments using an app on my iPhone called Seeing AI. The AI app will convert any printed or handwritten text into a digital file that I can read and review.
I must allow for extra prep time. I can do just about anything a sighted person can do; it just may take me a little longer. I might have to convert files or scan materials, so they are accessible. There is often time spent learning how to navigate a digital document. Not all digital formats are the same. Occasionally I may hit a road block of some sort, a website or digital product that is not accessible. This leads me to time spent researching the issue and finding a solution. I’m all about finding a way to get past the parts of life that at a first glance seem inaccessible.
It’s actually pretty simple, I just live life with no excuses. Let me encourage you, whether you are blind or sighted, don’t limit your life by making excuses. I get it, some of those excuses can be valid, but why would you want to let them hold you back from something greater. Don’t let what others have said or done keep you from your best life. Don’t let past mistakes, insecurities or fears hold you back. You have a choice, take what you get or overcome it and experience great and mighty things! Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Y’all, that is what I’ve chosen for my life, a future of the good things of the Lord and full of hope!